From The Blog

Enjoying Nature Wherever You Are

I fondly remember trips I’ve taken to some of the great nature destinations in the U.S. Places like Yosemite, Yellowstone, The Great Smoky...

 
 

I fondly remember trips I’ve taken to some of the great nature destinations in the U.S. Places like Yosemite, Yellowstone, The Great Smoky Mountains, & Big Bend. Many years ago, Julie and I got to spend an entire fall rambling around Oregon and N. California with an ecologist, learning the plants, animals, and geology of desert, mountain, and coastal ecosystems.  We’ve seen many beautiful nature scenes and fascinating natural phenomena on these trips. But part of the reason these trips are so memorable is because they are so rare. Most of us working stiffs don’t have (or take) opportunities on a regular basis to visit national parks and nature preserves. Ah, but nature is all around us on a daily basis—in our backyards, in the walk from the car to the office, at the city park, even in the mall parking lot.

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The best place to get a regular, calming dose of nature is in our own backyards. There are natural phenomena unfolding beneath our noses every day and night, right where we live: flowers are being pollinated in amazing ways by all sorts of critters and intricate methods, animals are competing for food and mates—and trying not to become someone else’s food in the process. There is more competing and loving, fighting and trickery going on in most backyards than we’ll ever see on TV (isn’t that what most TV shows are about anyway?). But we have to get outside and observe it. Just open the back door and take a look.

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And the more native plants in your yard the more there will be to observe. Research by Doug Tallamy at the University of Delaware has shown that native plants support a more robust palette of insects than non-native plants. Insects can be fascinating, in their own right, to watch and learn about. But think of them also as bird food, as frog food, as lizard food, as fish food, as shrew food . . . you get the idea.

I’ll try to share in future blogs some of the things I’ve seen—not on nature trips to famous destinations—but in my own backyard. And you can comment back on some things you’ve seen in yours. I’ll give some tips on how you can improve your ability to really see what is going on there—see with a naturalist’s eyes. You can even teach your kids how if you have some at home. What a great legacy to leave them! Stay tuned . . .

BH


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