Waiting for Wolf-light

Get outside and enjoy the sunshine, watch for fluttering wings, be enchanted, and note birds that are nearest to you.

Things to do this weekend:
Wave Hill, Enchanted Weekend, dance, sing, explore!  There will be music, leaves, flowers, and mysteries hidden in bark!
Dyed in Queens, Queens Botanical Garden, Sunday - extracting colors from botanicals!

Notice the birds nearest to you!  Try to look for them on your daily walks, learn their songs, learn about their habitat, and behavior.  Most importantly, start seeing (not just looking, but really seeing!), and hearing them. Here are few to know just to get you started:
Red-winged blackbird
Blue Jay
Mallard duck

Become an Ace Leaf Peeper!  Come on out for a crash course in  leaf appreciation - look up and be amazed!  If you have an appetite for looking at trees come out for Only Oaks and Eating Acorns on October 28.

After all this activity wait for wolf-light.  A lovely explanation from Robert Macfarlane on Twitter: "wolf-light" - twilight, dusk. French 'Entre chien et loup', 'Between dog & wolf' - the time when the familiar becomes wild.

Be curious and have fun outside!

“Our ability to perceive quality in nature begins, as in art, with the pretty. It expands through successive stages of the beautiful to values as yet uncaptured by language.”
– Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac

Shadows And Surprises

Get outside and look and listen, observe in every way that you can and be surprised!  You never know what you might discover: the scent of leaves in early decay, a 'cloud smile', a startlingly tiny leaf, the shadow cast by a familiar tree, all are waiting for you!

Other opportunities for discovery include:

Bird Migration!  
Here's the BirdCast.  
Take note of the birds near you - are you noticing any winter birds?  (Personally, I am looking forward to the return of the Buffleheads.) 
Here are some upcoming bird walks: 
Sparrows on Staten Island - Saturday
Hawk Watch in Queens - Saturday
Bryant Park Birding - Monday morning

Mushroom Foraging!
The New York Mycological Society has upcoming walks- including one on Saturday on Randall's Island - go join them!   

Leaf Peeping!  If you are in the New York City area come on out for  an upcoming session of Become an Ace Leaf Peeper and explore the slowly changing leaves!  

If you can't make it to class, here's an assignment for you: take two fallen leaves from the same tree (let proximity to the tree be your guide) and look at those leaves for a few minutes and note how they are different.  Maybe you will draw them as well.  Now keep visiting that tree every day for a week.  Look for more leaves, make more notes.  Keep looking, keep noticing.

Be curious and have fun outside!

"There is something even in the lapse of time by which time recovers itself."  - Henry David Thoreau

Harvest Moon!

Go outside tonight and bask in the light of the Harvest Moon!  What else to do?  Look for acorns, marvel at raptors, listen for blue jays, and read a poem about a favorite National Park!  

Raptors on the wing!
Hawk Watch in Staten Island on Saturday
Falconry at Wave Hill on Monday
Birdwatching with Brooklyn Bird Club on Sunday at Ridgewood Reservoir.

Row Around Manhattan - yes, it is an island!  Look for a human powered boats plying the waters around Manhattan on Saturday.

Look for acorns!  When you do find acorns look a little further around.  What else do you see?  Do you hear the call of a blue jay?  They are quite fond of acorns, so listen closely.  

Leaf Peeping!  If you are in the New York City area and are eager to get a jump on your local leaf peeping sign up for an upcoming session of Become an Ace Leaf Peeper!  Also consider the charms (and flavors!) of the acorn with Only Oaks and Eating Acorns.

Finally, take a moment to read a poem (or two) from the Imagine Our Parks with Poems project.

"A thing is right that tends to increase the integrity, stability, and beauty of the land, and its wrong if it tends otherwise."
– Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac

The next tree you see

The next tree that you approach, stop.  Even briefly.  Touch the bark, say a small thank you for evapotranspiration, for flowers and fruit, for insect homes, and stories that are contained in concentric rings.  The oldest tree in New York City is a tulip tree, Liriodendron tulipfera.  This tree is estimated to be around 400 years old.  Of course, there are older trees in the world.  Yet, take a moment and consider that this tree began life in the early to mid-1600s. Quite a bit has happened since then.

Illustration by Jessica Maffia

Illustration by Jessica Maffia

Trees grow annual rings that hold information about the weather.  They don't tell you if it was a good year in the stockmarket, or when women got the right to vote in the United States.  They don't tell you when nations were born or when frozen yogurt receded from popularity.

Yet this tree lived through that.  This tree also lived through years of heavy rain and years of too little and grew leaves, flowers, seeds, branches, and another ring.

The next tree that you encounter will likely be a much younger one.  Yet, stop, even for a moment.  Touch the bark.  Look up.  Wish it well.  So that next year there will be another ring. 

Winter Tulip Tree illustration by  Jessica Maffia

Winter Tulip Tree illustration by Jessica Maffia