Kindling Neighborly Connections between People and Nature.

Monday, July 26, 2021

Caterpillar's Wisdom: Personal Transformation is Worth Investing In

Io Moth Caterpillar
Personal transformation is worth investing in. For Lepidopterans (butterflies, moths, and their larval form, caterpillars) the continuation of their species is dependent upon each of its members undergoing a personal transformation called complete metamorphosis. After filling up on favored food plants over the course of several months, caterpillars undergo the most extreme form of personal transformation in the world. Within the chrysalis or cocoon, all body parts are broken down and then re-organized into a totally new form. What was once caterpillar emerges from chrysalis as butterfly and from cocoon as moth. Flight doesn't happen without personal transformation. The next season of life cannot happen without personal transformation.
Monarch Butterfly

One thing I imagine our lepidopteran neighbors trying to teach is that personal transformation is worth investing in. People are capable of changing, growing, and transforming physically, mentally, emotionally, and relationally. Take a lesson from a lepidopteran. Invest time and energy in your personal transformation. When you do, you'll be empowered to spread your wings into the next season of your life, wherever the path may lead.

While you're at it, return your gratitude for this gift of inspiration by building neighborly relationships with the caterpillars, butterflies, and moths who live near you. Landscape with native plants and refrain from using harmful chemicals on the land that you manage. Your lepidopteran neighbors will thank you.

Sunday, July 11, 2021

In a word...WOW!

If I could summarize yesterday's nature events in a word, the best word I can think of might be WOW! Given the opportunity to lead a dragonfly adventure at Riverfront Park, some dragonfly as well as mycorrhizal fungi interpretation to Athens UMC's Sunday Church service, and to bring more mycorrhizal fun to Church in the Wild's Sunday afternoon gathering, my heart is full. Thanks to all who participated in each of these nature events. I hope that together we'll grow in our connection with nature and in the compassion and care each of us extend to our wild neighbors and to our human neighbors. 

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Eagle and Osprey event follow up

Bald eagles soar over the landscape with a commanding presence; rulers of their domain, they move about as they please. There is freedom in those wings. 

Here’s a group photo from this past Sunday’s eagle and osprey nature outing. This week’s program will shine a light on the almost unbelievable hunting prowess of dragonflies!

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Beaver Event Fun for All

This past Sunday's Beaver Program was a fun and engaging experience for all participants. We learned how beavers are the best dam housing developers in the animal world, creating homes for thousands of neighbors with the construction with every lodge and dam. We had an interview with Billy the Beaver and even got to see and touch some beaver artifacts. Thanks to all participants. See you at the next adventure!

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Umbrella for a Bug on a Rainy Day

I enjoy a walk in the forest on a rainy day because the life-giving waters make all of the leaves appear so vibrant and full of life! During this-morning's walk in the rain along Diahoga Trail I paused to make the acquaintance with some insect neighbors hanging out on the underside of a leaf. When it rains, us humans are not the only ones who like to take shelter. Here's a pic of an umbrella for a bug on a rainy day.

For those interested, I believe this to be a beetle in the genus Poecilocapsus on the leaf of a teasel plant.

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Quest for the Green Dragon, a Success!

Thanks to Joan, Linda, Pat and Kevin who joined me for a legendary nature outing along the Diahoga Trail this-morning. We recognized the dragon-fly, the river-dragon, the Leviathan-carp, and the one we all set out to discover, the very special plant who goes by the name Green Dragon! 

Those who participate in next Sunday's event will be thinking like beavers! Don't worry, you won't have to go swimming or even get your feet wet since we'll be using our imaginations. We'll locate some signs of beaver's presence and there is always a chance that we could see an actual beaver along the Susquehanna's banks!



Thursday, June 17, 2021

Insects are Key Players in the Circle of Life

 Here's a visual I made that shows the relative abundance of arthropod species (Insects and Other Bugs) compared to the number of species in other class groups within the Kingdom Animalia. I know there are a variety of categories within "Other Bugs," but this depiction is for simplicity in a way that young kids can make quick sense of. Insects truly have taken over the world, and we could not have life as we know it (or perhaps at all!) without them. 

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Another Fantastic Event

I'm grateful to everyone who participated in Thursday-evening's gray treefrog nature outing; the games, the conversation, a short forest hike, a couple of willing treefrogs who announced their presence, and the cottonwood trees...OH MY the cottonwood cotton! Gray treefrogs bring unique character to our north-central Pennsylvania forests. Our treefrog neighbors can remind us that we are all a little different and that's something to celebrate! Be you as only you can, and together we'll make a better world.

Ode to Catalpa (Diahoga Trail; Sayre, PA June 12, 2021)

When I was a kid, your blossoms signified the beginning of a Summer of nature exploration. Three months of freedom. Some years your blooms were so abundant that, when they dropped, the entire sidewalk was covered in your delicate pearly petals. I'd walk far out around your trunk to avoid stepping on them. Surely it would have done no actual harm, but it would feel irreverent to trample the beauty that to me signified Summer freedom. 

My catalpa sketch. 6/12/2021

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Seldom Seen Blooms of Tuliptree

I remember the first time I stumbled upon it in the woods; the sweet aroma of Tuliptree in bloom. I had been out hiking through a deciduous forest and it was like I walked into a cloud of a subtle sweet smell that captivated me. I had to find out where it was originating. I searched for twenty minutes before realizing that the aroma was descending from the branches high above! 

Usually you have to have a big ladder or tree climbing equipment to enjoy the beautiful blooms of our Tuliptree neighbors, but yesterday I was fortunate to find a couple with eye-level blooms along Main and Edward Streets in Athens, PA. 

The flowers are very upright and look green from the side or from below, but take a look at one from the top down and WOW! That orange really pops! The first thing I always notice about Tuliptrees are the straight trunks and squared-off maple-like leaves. But, if it's June, the sweet aroma of Tuliptrees blooms are sure to be the first thing about it to catch my attention. 

I hope you're able to enjoy the beautiful aromatic Tuliptree flowers for yourself. Like anything in nature, Tuliptrees are connected with a whole bunch of different kinds of wildlife, including certain species of butterflies. While you're making the acquaintance with your Tuliptree neighbors, give attention to the animals and insects moving on and around these sturdy trees. Often, special relationships in nature will be revealed to you. Binoculars may be helpful, because they can grow very tall!  

Every season presents it's own unique floral beauty. Last month it was Silver Maple, now it's  Tuliptree, and Catalpa will be next!

Sunday, May 30, 2021

The Gift of a Mountain Day

If I were to make a list of the best days of my life (based on my own perspective and experience), that list would include the following:

...The day I married Erin.

...The day we became Ivy’s forever home.

...Every day I get to spend on a mountain.

There is nothing like the gift of a mountain day, including this one on Algonquin Mountain in New York’s Adirondack Park this past week.

What special experiences make your “best day” list?

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

We All Need Somebody to Lean On

Just call on me brother when you need a hand, we all need somebody to lean on. I just might have a problem that you’ll understand, we all need somebody to lean on...”

If the spruce and fir trees who live in the krummholz zone of the Adirondack mountains could sing, I think they might sing Lean On Me by Bill Withers.

In Summer it’s easygoing for these high alpine trees.  The problem is Winter’s extreme frigid wind and ice. Any trees left to weather this seasonal hardship alone will experience death or at least amputation of exposed branches.

The solution: find lots of friends to lean on!

What these lively boughs lack in stature they make up for in comradery. Their teamwork ensures survival and blankets the mountainside with a thick and vital mat of spruce and fir that for all intents and purposes behaves as a single organism.

The seasonal hardships that you and I face as human beings may be different than that which our high alpine spruce and fir neighbors face, but isn’t it true...we all need somebody to lean on...

(Krummholz Zone of Whiteface Mountain May 26, 2021)

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Strength in Diversity

The endemic plants of the northern forest teach that there is strength in diversity. How many different plants can you see in this photo living as neighbors to each other? 

(Photo taken along Boreal Loop at Paul Smith’s VIC in the Adirondack Park in New York)