The signs of Spring have been around for at least a month or more if you knew what you were looking for: goldfinches starting to show color, daffodils and snowdrops emerging from dried leaves, bird songs piercing the chilly mornings. And now, Spring is officially here. Margaret Sisler introduced me to the concept of forest bathing:
While our patch of trees around the old silo at the back of the property probably don’t count as forest, they are our bit of woodsy wilderness. With the exception of cutting a few walking paths, we let it be, and it provides cover for critters including our very own Myrtle the Turtle that we usually see once or twice a year. For me, it provides a peaceful retreat. The dogs and I walk there almost every day and yet it never gets dull. Nature works through her cycles around us.
I think, for me, the biggest lesson during this transition has been that idea of looking deeply at familiar landscapes. It’s easy to see the daffodils with their flashy yellow blossoms, but they have been there to be seen and enjoyed for much longer, as we marvel at their strength, pushing up through soil and leaves and mulch. I am always reminded of Dylan Thomas’ poem, The force that drives the green shoot through the flower.
At the recent CoSN conference, I attended a spotlight session presented by Dr. Milton Chen that focused on outdoor, experiential learning opportunities, mostly through the national parks. Sadly, Dr. Chen had, along with many others, resigned from the National Park Service education advisory board after being ignored in their efforts to engage with the new administration.
But, he remained passionate about the possibilities of outdoor education and describe Alice Waters’ Edible Schoolyard program. The farm-to-table approach to gardening means that kids learn to both grow AND cook their own food.
I firmly believe that raising even a small amount of your own food is good for the soul: some leaf lettuce, herbs, spring onions, and radishes are all easy crops to grow in a pot in a sunny warm place. There is a simple joy to adding a bit of fresh rosemary or chives to your potatoes or salting and crunching into a freshly pulled radish (better yet, dip it in melted butter).
But, connecting to nature can be as simple as keeping a bird feeder. While we have lots of birds who stick around all year here in south central Virginia, we also have migrants.
My favorites are the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds. April 1 is the traditional day for me to put up my first hummingbird feeder. We had our first siting today, April 4. It was a male–it usually is–and I added our siting to the hummingbird database. It took just a moment or two to submit and I was able to see my entry immediately and see that we were very much on the northern edge of reporting.
These kinds of migration tracking projects have been around for almost as long as the Internet. While they are certainly wonderful ways to have students experience collaboration and scientific discovery, they are also moments for students to connect with the natural world, to stop for a moment and wonder at the joy that is a hummingbird.
Taxonomy: The spy who loved frogs : Nature News & Comment
An intriguing story of a complex man.
Brown’s reassessment could prove crucial. Since Taylor’s time, taxonomy has become more than just a naming exercise. Designating a group of organisms as a new species, or lumping it in with an old one, can affect the animals’ legal protection and influence the allocation of scarce conservation resources.
Designating a group of organisms as a new species, or lumping it in with an old one, can affect the animals’ legal protection and influence the allocation of scarce conservation resources.
Taylor had other demons. He had voiced support for eugenics programmes and reportedly refused to take on Jewish students. Brown makes no apologies for the man, but Taylor’s reputation — for good or ill — is intertwined with the history of the Kansas museum. “In the end, we consider him our own,” says Brown.
Meet the Craftsman Who Makes the World’s Coolest Globes | Wired Design | Wired.com
In the Google Earth world, there is still a place for globes. Not to mention all the math and science involved…what a potentially great project for kids!
Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.
I’m reading Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac, a collection of short pieces describing life around The Shack, the country cottage he and his family inhabited for many years. The descriptions follows the months of the year and I’m reading one each day, treating myself to Leopold’s vivid insights into the flora, fauna, and humanity of the place. Leopold’s prose should be part of every writing class as he captures the whole experience. Here, March geese, who seem to know there aren’t hunters in the spring, “wind the oxbows of the river, cutting low over the now gunless points and islands, and gabbling to each sandbar as to a long-lost friend. They weave low over the marshes and meadows, greeting each newly melted puddle and pool. Finally, after a few pro-forma circlings of our marsh, they set wing and glide silently to the pond, black landing-gear lowered and rumps white against the far hill. Once touching water, our newly arrived guests set up a honking and splashing that shakes the last thought of winter out of the brittle cattails.”
After I finished my blog post about gardening as a 21st century skill, I picked up Leopold to read the entry for March. The whole piece is about the arrival of the geese in Wisconsin in early Spring. His comment about being involved in the natural world seemed a perfect punctuation to my own thoughts on this Spring morning.
A March morning is only as drab as he who walks in it without a glance skyward, ear cocked for the geese. I once knew an educated lady, banded by Phi Beta Kappa, who told me that she had never heard or seen the geese that twice a year proclaim the revolving seasons to her well-insulated roof. Is education possibly a process of trading awareness for things of lesser worth? The goose who trades his is soon a pile of feathers.