Nature Observation Through The Seasons An InvitationNov 27, 2020 09:45AM ● By Tim Seifarth and Natasha Herr
This year, something unexpected happened. In the midst of tragedy and uncertainty, in the middle of a great collective pause, in an attempt to find normalcy during a time of great change, out of the deep resiliency at the heart of human beings, out of curiosity, necessity, a desire for safety, and a healthy dose of sheer boredom, the people of the world were pushed outdoors.
As soon as it was deemed safe, we emerged from our houses onto balconies, patios, porches and yards. We poured into parks and onto trails, climbed up mountains and traipsed down hills. Under the open sky we swam, we explored, we loved, we grieved, we ate, we relaxed, we taught our children, we worked, we spent time with loved ones and in the process, we renewed our interest in the natural world.
Many of us reconnected to the ecosystems around us in ways we hadn’t before. We watched pollution levels fall around the globe. We watched animals roam the suddenly empty streets. We saw bird behavior patterns change as grounded planes quieted the skies. Many of us took notice of things we never had before, and started to pay more attention to the natural rhythms around us. At a time when climate change represents a very real and present danger to so many of the species that we share this planet with, this new found love for and connection with nature is emerging not a moment too soon.
As the days grow short and the air grows cold here on the East coast, winter brings new challenges and opportunities in a world still struggling with COVID-19. While it certainly is nice to spend time outside in the warm months, the cold season offers its own kind of beauty and possibility.
With the leaves no longer on the trees, it is easier to see the birds as they forage and hunt and call to one another. The clear light and open landscape make winter a perfect time to study tree bark and the silhouettes of favorite plants and shrubs. Snow makes an ideal medium for animal tracking, and gives us a chance to see which creatures share our backyards and wild spaces, sometimes unbeknownst to us.
Whether experienced through a window or in the great outdoors, we extend an opportunity to observe, take part in the natural world, and walk alongside us over the next twelve months through all four seasons. We suggest keeping a simple journal to record observations, and we will give hints, tips and suggestions for things to look for and to pay attention to as the seasons progress.
We often think of nature as being apart from us when the truth is, we are inseparable. Reconnection to nature is really the process of remembering our place in the grand scheme of things. It means learning how to interact with the natural world in order to support the health of our wild communities and human ones. May the coming year be a time of growth and learning for all of us as we explore the ecosystems we live within, and learn to listen to the many marvelous stories they have to offer.
This monthly column which in future months can be found on Natural Awakenings Lancaster/Berks websites, NALancaster.com or NABerks.com, is an invitation from us at Earthbound Artisan. Tim Seifarth, who has 24 years of experience as a landscape professional, opened Earthbound Artisan nearly a decade ago. Based out of Ephrata, and located along the Ephrata Linear Park Rail Trail, Earthbound is an ecological land care company and native plant nursery specializing in organic land management, permaculture, native plant ecosystem design and installation, dry stack stone work and riparian buffer and rainwater management. Natasha Herr has more than 15 years of experience as a naturalist, earth care professional, writer and community educator. She currently serves as Earthbound’s director of land management and operations manager. For more information, visit EarthboundArtisan.com and EarthboundNatives.com.