Reading Nature’s Signs

George Adamson, the African lion whisperer of Born Free fame, once said,

“I’ve not taken a morning paper for 40 years. The news I need is printed on the ground.”

Photo by Robert G. Price, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service via Wikimedia Commons.

Considering the increasing noise of our nation’s news sources these days, I can relate to Adamson’s approach.

Nature’s news is something I can relate to …

The notion takes me back to those faraway, yet ever-familiar, seasons I spent working in the backcountry, removed from the chatter and clatter of the civilized world. Out there, the direction of the wind constituted a weather forecast, foretelling fair weather or a take-shelter-now sort of storm. A scattering of tracks was my traffic report, telling me which direction—and how recently—a bear or cougar had passed. Ripening berries (and a working knowledge of their edibility) were more pertinent than politics from day to day.

Which brings me to a book you might like to add to your reading list:

The Lost Art of Reading Nature’s Signs: Use Outdoor Clues to Find Your Way, Predict the Weather, Locate Water, Track Animals—and Other Forgotten Skills by Tristan Gooley is a book that George Adamson might have recommended.

Gooley, who refers to himself as a “natural navigator,” has compiled more than 850 eye-opening outdoor tips that promise to tune you in to nature’s hidden logic. He shares techniques for forecasting and tracking, whether you’re lost in the wild or wandering through a city park. He says, “This is the ultimate resource on what the land, sun, moon, stars, plants, animals, and clouds can reveal—if you only know how to look!”

This guy knows his stuff. According to his book jacket bio, Gooley has led expeditions in five continents; climbed mountains in Europe, Africa, and Asia; sailed small boats across oceans; and piloted small aircraft to Africa and the Arctic. He is the only living person to have both flown solo and sailed singlehandedly across the Atlantic, and he is a Fellow of the Royal Institute of Navigation and the Royal Geographical Society.

Gooley can be found on his resource-packed website at

Leave a comment 6 Comments

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    This looks like an interesting read. I am reminded, living here in the city, that with just a closer look, even we city folk have those signs of nature in abundance all around us. For example, if you look closely at the driveway, the afternoon summer storms are knocking down those early fat acorns from the Oak tree. My orange tree is full of hard green colored oranges slowly getting bigger and bigger. Right now, the fruit is the same color as the foliage and you can’t see the bounty without a closer look. In the backyard, we have noticed that many of the birds are going through a molting stage as their feather colors are not uniform or lying flat. It is fascinating to see what is happening every day right here in my own yard when I take the time to look a little closer.

  2. Krista says:

    I would love to read this book. Seeing nature for what it truly is and being able to understand what it’s telling me would be absolutely amazing! I have never been that good at reading nature but would love to be able to tune out the craziness of the world and take an adventure with my family listening only to what nature has to tell us. This book has been added to my list of books to read.

  3. Sounds a great book.

    I, too, am so fed up already with the nonsense on the national front that I just do not listen to the radio anymore, don’t look at the paper and as we don’t have TV have no problem ignoring that.
    I figure if something really newsworth occurs one of my neighbors will be sure to let me kno.

  4. lisa von saunder says:

    when I lived in a tent for nearly a year in the white mountains of NH I definitely followed many nature signs. So why was I totally bamboozled when one evening I stood in the doorway of my tent and saw what looked like a horse in the twilight? ha it was a mother moose and her calf ,which you may know spells TROUBLE! Yep Mama Moose is very protective of her calf and thank heavens I was downwind from her.
    In my months in that forest I saw much wildlife and many tracks but nothing as spectacular as that moose duo.

  5. Denis says:

    This looks like a fantastic read and something I could share with the younger ones of the family. They love coming over and going on “treasure hunts” in the woods here. We are given so much if only we would see it.

  6. Alicia Winkler says:

    That looks fantastic! I could see everyone enjoying a book like that in our family. We take regular nature study hikes as part of our school each week.

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