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In from the Field (and Out Again)
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HERE IN NORTHERN NEW ENGLAND, we used to joke about having only two seasons: winter and lousy tobogganing.
Or we would mark our calendars this way:
July 3 – take off snow tires
July 4 – summer
July 5 – put on snow tires
Or we expanded the four seasons like this: spring, summer, autumn, stick season, winter, mud season.
But as my dear friends Nona Estrin and Charles Johnson point out in their spectacular book, In Season: A Natural History of the New England Year, nature is far too varied to be limited to only four seasons. We’ve got seasons for amphibian sex, migration, mushrooms, asters, hibernation, and on and on.
And now is the Season of Flying Things, a month or so centered around late June when birds and insects seem most diverse and abundance, which is why I haven’t been in front of this computer very much. Since late May, when the last of the warblers arrived, I’ve mostly been outside — working in woods and wetlands of northeastern Vermont (our “Northeast Kingdom”) and teaching week-long seminars in butterflies and dragonflies at Maine’s famed Eagle Hill Institute.
All the while, even as flight has been my focus, I paused for little things, including Twinflower (Linnaea borealis), the most elegant plant in our north woods and the one named for Carl Linnaeus, or the glow of Lung Lichen (Lobaria pulmonaria), a green like nothing else hanging on our trees. And just today, I noticed that the wild strawberries up there in the Kingdom are now the epitome of “strawberryness,” a genuine flavor, revealing the cultivated fruits as feeble impostors (although still damned good).
Now I’m off to chase dragonflies with colleagues in New Hampshire and Vermont. Then back into the Kingdom for more work at my field site (that’s part of “my office” from the canoe above).