Saturday, February 11, 2017

(Re)Springing #phenology

For at least the second time this Winter, we're enjoying a major snow melt. Local "gravel" roads will once again turn to mud. Meanwhile, several of our oak trees still have numerous dead leaves attached to their branches, we're now up to about 10 hours and 17 minutes of daylight, male Cardinals should be starting their Spring song defending territory and at least one pickup truck has been in the news for breaking through the ice on a nearby lake. Spring is getting resprung.

once again, mud season
once again, mud season
Photo by J. Harrington

The USA Phenology Network has several online resources available for our learning about fundamentals. The three I find most helpful are the Botany Primer, the How to Observe Handbook, and the (draft) Phenophase Primer. If you want to check out other resources, follow this link.

male Cardinal with oak leaf cluster
male Cardinal with oak leaf cluster
Photo by J. Harrington

I'm finding my old aversion to learning through memorization kicking in, but I'm also hoping that engaging in regular, structured observations and actually learning and being able to promptly apply what I'm learning will help overcome that aversion. When I was in school, there was little (no?) attention paid to experiential learning, but that's what a lot of "life-long learning" is about, right? Plus, it is no doubt a mentally and emotionally more healthful expenditure of time and effort than tracking the goings-on in St. Paul and Washington, D.C. Remember the old saying about "he who fights and runs away, lives to fight another day?" That's why this is probably a good year for me to really tackle phenology. It can serve as one form of self care.

Hunger Moon


By Jane Cooper


The last full moon of February
stalks the fields; barbed wire casts a shadow.
Rising slowly, a beam moved toward the west
stealthily changing position
until now, in the small hours, across the snow
it advances on my pillow
to wake me, not rudely like the sun
but with the cocked gun of silence.
I am alone in a vast room
where a vain woman once slept.
The moon, in pale buckskins, crouches
on guard beside her bed.
Slowly the light wanes, the snow will melt
and all the fences thrum in the spring breeze
but not until that sleeper, trapped
in my body, turns and turns.

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