Late Autumn Color – From My Window

Said the leaves upon the branches,

One sunny autumn day,

“We have finished all our work, and now

We can no longer stay;

So our gowns of red and yellow,

And our cloaks of sober brown

Must be worn before the frost comes,

And we go rustling down…”

-by Margaret E. Sangster


I have been attempting to take a photo of my front yard from my office window each month for comparing. This was an idea that came from Alex over at Life on a Canadian Island when she shared her photos each month with the Outdoor Hour Challenge Blog Carnival. I looked back through my images and I found that I have been fairly successful in capturing an image each month. I thought today would be a great day to share a few of the pictures with you because they show the autumn colors we have finally experienced.

March 2015 window photoThis is from March 2015 back when everything looked so neat a tidy. You can see the daffodils and the forsythia are the stars of the show.

august 2015 window photo (7)This one is from August 2015. The butterfly bushes and the sage have taken over and are created shelter for the birds, bees, and butterflies.

 Monthly Window Photo November 2015This was from the beginning of November 2015. The dogwood tree, the redbud, and the butterfly bushes are all starting to take on their autumn colors.

Monthly Window Photo November 2015 (2)

This is the view out the other window in my office…looking out into the Chinese pistache trees. I love having these trees in our yard because there are many birds that are attracted to them at this time of the year. I get to see flickers, robins, starlings, and bluebirds as they hover and perch around the nutlets that are crimson red on this tree.

Monthly Window Photo Snow November 2015

Now this week we have had hail twice and it has changed the look of the view out my living room window. I spend lots of time observing the birdfeeders from this particular window and since we trimmed a few of the butterfly bushes and the lavender and the yarrow I have a clearer view of who is visiting.

If you would like to read more about starting a window study or any year long nature study, members can look at the July 2014 edition of the Handbook of Nature Study newsletter. There are quite a few ideas and suggestions in that issue. Or, you can start a year-long tree study by using the ideas in this entry: Four Seasons Tree Study Photo Project.

You might also like these nature color ideas:

Color Cards - These printable cards are perfect for younger students.

Signs of Autumn – Printable notebook page.

November World - November in your own backyard activities and printable.




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California Forests and Woodlands – Nature Book Review

California Forests and Woodlands Review @handbookofnaturestudy (2)

The last book in my nature book project for 2015 is California Forests and Woodlands by Verna R. Johnston. I have had this book on my shelf for a few years but have never dedicated much time to actually reading it. I have skimmed through it and looked at the photos many times but to take time to sit and read with a pencil in my hand didn’t happen until this month. Amazing what a little effort will bring as far as rewards of new understanding and connections with places and trees that I have visited hundreds of times.

Here is the book ISBN if you want to look for it on Amazon or at your local retailer: California Forests and Woodlands- ISBN 978-0520202481 (Note this is an affiliate link to

The first chapter spends some in-depth time showing how to recognize the different conifer trees found in California. I needed this simple explanation along with the detailed drawings to help me sort out in my mind the  best way to distinguish one conifer from another by patterns of growth and numbers of needles, size and shape of the cones, and the placement of the cones on the branches.

California Forests and Woodlands Review @handbookofnaturestudy (3)

After this chapter, the book jumps right into its first forest type, the redwoods! Then it continues with each of the other nine types of forests found in California with descriptions, facts, maps, and illustrations.

Included in each forest description are the animals that coexist in each habitat. I found this aspect of the book very informative and helpful as an amateur naturalist. Making these connections between habitat and inhabitant has given me a new respect for the interdependence of the plants and animals that thrive here in California.


California Forests and Woodlands Review @handbookofnaturestudy (1)

  • 222 pages
  • This is not a field guide but rather a more narrative style book with mostly pen illustrations.
  • There are 16 full color photograph plates (or pages) in this book that give a sampling of what you will see when visiting each type of forest. I found these very well done and helpful.
  • Forests included: redwood, north coast, Douglas Fir/Mixed Evergreen, closed cone pine and cypress, foothill woodland, midmountain forest, Giant sequoia, red fir and lodgepole pine, subalpine forest, pinyon pine-juniper.
  • This book is a little expensive (around $29) but it looks like you can order more reasonably priced used copies on Amazon (approximately $3 plus shipping).
  • I am planning on using this book as I travel to different parts of my state as a way to introduce my thoughts ahead of time to what I might see during a hike or camping trip. Although this book is not a field guide, it has a section color plates with images of living things that can be seen in a particular forest habitat.
  • I highly recommend this book to families who live in California and would like a supplement to the Handbook of Nature Study and a  field guide.
  • This book would make an excellent advanced study resource for older and more experienced nature study students.

Nature Book Project 2015 @handbookofnaturestudy
Previous Month’s Books and Reviews

This is the last book for 2015! I am currently working on a new idea for 2016 that you can use to create your own book list (think printable for your planner). I will post my 2016 Nature Book Project list soon.