Thursday, January 29, 2009

Passionately Curious

While looking for a long-lost poem that I had heard on the Writer's Almanac in 1999, I stumbled across a second grade teacher's blog called Passionately Curious (where she had, much to my delight, reprinted the poem - see below). I was so charmed by this view into her classroom, it made me long to be a second-grade teacher. The title of her blog was what caused me to click over to it in the first place; passionately curious is an apt description for so many of the naturalists and educators I know. I also discovered (in her bio) the source of the blog's title:

I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious. - Albert Einstein

Here's the poem I was searching for:

Something Told the Wild Geese

Something told the wild geese
It was time to go.
Though the fields lay golden
Something whispered - "Snow."
Leaves were green and stirring,
Berries, luster-glossed,
But beneath warm feathers
Something cautioned - "Frost."
All the sagging orchards
Steamed with amber spice,
But each wild breast stiffened
At remembered ice.
Something told the wild geese
It was time to fly -
Summer sun was on their wings,
Winter in their cry.

Rachel Field

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Richard Louv's Blog on Children and Nature

One of my MEES colleagues sent around an article from Richard Louv's blog: "Field Notes from the Future" - something I probably should have been aware of before now, but wasn't. Richard Louv is the author of the powerful book Last Child in the Woods, which (among other things) deals with an issue he termed "nature deficency disorder"; an topic environmental educators all over the world have have since taken on. All the blog articles all well worth reading (and there aren't that many, so get started!), but there's an article on there that really struck me called Singing for Bears. Read it.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

25 Random Things (About Me)

A few friends of mine sent me this note on Facebook recently: “25 random things about me” (or something like that). I loved the idea because it really got me thinking... what don't most of my friends know about me? And of that (mostly useless) information, what's worth telling them? I also loved getting this from them and learning some trivial, and not-so trivial things about them. Here's what I came up with:

1. If I could only use two words to describe myself I would use fiery and passionate

2. I performed in Carnegie Hall when I was sixteen (not by myself... with a regional youth symphony orchestra)

3. I spent most of my childhood wishing I were almost any animal other than human (preferably a furry one)

4. I have two tattoos and plan to get more; each one is, or will be, a piece of my soul inscribed on my skin.

5. Until I met my husband, I was dead certain that I would never have children

6. I was born on a Friday the 13th (April) and my son was born on Halloween (at 13:13).

7. I LOVE to sing!!!

8. I am amazed (and pleased) at how much being a mother now defines me; my son has helped me find parts of my soul I never knew existed

9. I don't make friends very easily, and so I cherish the ones I have; they mean more to me than they will ever know (even though I'm lousy at keeping in touch)

10. Halloween is my very favorite holiday (and was prior to the birth of my son).

11. I haven't done nearly enough world traveling

12. Making a difference in the world is the main force that drives me every day.

13… is my favorite number.

14. I keep thinking about what I’m going to do when I win the lottery, but I don’t play it.

15. I discovered I had claustrophobia when attempting to enter one of the pyramids of Egypt during Ramadan in 1997.

16. If I could live anywhere in the States, it would be in the Monadnock region of NH – I went to camp there as a child and worked and went to school there as an adult. Someday (someday) I plan to return.

17. My Sicilian grandfather has a rather...interesting...heritage

18. I love, love, love, to swim, but not in ponds with squishy bottoms (which is most of them)

19. If I could be doing anything at (almost) any moment, it would be riding a horse

20. After 12 days with no power in our house last month, I discovered that there are few more satisfying things than sitting down to a meal cooked in your own house with your family (with all the lights on...)

21. My favorite author is Stephen King; I'd love to sit down and talk with him

22. I could probably identify 90% of the plants and animals in your backyard (stole this one from Kate - thanks!!)

23. I collect coins (I'm such a geek)

24. I never told the person who inspired me to become an educator that he did so (I will though, I swear!)

25. I love my name.

Monday, January 19, 2009

New Beginnings

We have a new president... and I am so thrilled. I watched the inaguration today at work with the kids with an intensity I've never given to presidental politics (around interruptions for things like heating up lunch, and coaxing a 5-year old to eat her chicken). I truely hope that the change that will come, will find us at home as well.

After the challenges of the ice storm, losing the baby and our wonderful Pandora - not to mention the health issues Obo and I have faced lately - we could use some change. The good news is that things feel like they're moving back to normal for our household (despite my back injury after slipping on ice Sunday, grrr.). Smiles and laughter were far more present than they have been for quite some time.

I have hope.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Predators and an Overabundance of Whitetail Deer in MA

I'm giving a talk on predators tonight at the Y; in preparation I was thumbing through an old issue of Massachusetts Wildlife (Nov. 2006), as I had seen mentioned on the cover an article about whitetail deer over-population. After reading the article, I have to say I'm even more fired up for my talk. It did a good job discussing the history of whitetails in New England, their human-caused decline and re-growth, and talked about the challenges we face living with a large, abundant mammal so close to our civilization. Hunting, however was the only method mentioned as a means of restricting the deer population (discounting natural causes which would result in ecosystem destruction and disease and starvation for thousands of animals). The article discussed the pros and cons people feel about hunting (while mentioning that the author - Tovar Cerulli - is a hunter himself) and proposed it as the best viable solution to the deer problem.

I happen to think that hunting is an excellent form of population control for our out-of-control deer population (and agree with the author that it's our best solution right now). And I also happen to think that a healthy predator population (i.e. - wolves) is also a potential solution. Reintroduction of wolves is a very controversial topic - no doubt about it. But much to my frustration, the author didn't even MENTION the role predators naturally play in keeping ungulate populations healthy and stable, and that fact that our top level predators are missing here in New England - and that's a big problem. Regardless of how you feel about an issue like predator re-introduction, to not even mention it as an ecological issue drives me crazy. People can continue on their way with their misconceptions about predators big and small, ignorant of how imbalanced our forests are without the biggest ones present. I'm SO glad I'm running my program this evening. **Stepping off my soapbox**

As an aside, I will be leading a tracking program in the central MA region this Saturday, January 16th from 10 - 12:30. If you're interested in attending, send me an email and I'll get you the details.