A wee bit late of June 21, the formal date of the summer solstice — celebrated throughout human history as an astronomical turning point, when daylight reigns supreme. The word solstice is derived from the Latin solstitium, from sol (sun) and stitium (to stand still), because it appears as though the sun actually stops during the solstice. For a few days after the solstice, the sun rises and sets at its northernmost point on the horizon, before slowly migrating southward again for the next six months.
From the midsummer festivals with bonfires and feasts, to the festival of St. John the Baptist, to Kupala Night and more, may your days of worshiping the sun be filled with blessings!
The harbinger of good times: Pan with a companion dragonfly
June 1, 2013 is National Trails Day!
Since 1993, the first Saturday of every June has been designated to inspire the general public and hiking enthusiasts alike to discover and celebrate America’s expansive trail network — comprising over 200,000 miles of trails. You can participate in a local hike, dog walk, cycle, horseback ride, help in a trail maintenance project, kayak, birdwatch, and so much more. It’s easy to forget how much work goes into trails’ planning, development, and upkeep: National Trails Day thanks the countless volunteers and partners for their support and grueling work.
Heading into the lovely trails of the Yamato Scrub Natural Area
Organized by the American Hiking Society, National Trails Day also introduces many people — those who may not otherwise normally visit parks — to all of their benefits. The day further highlights trails that people didn’t even know existed. This was actually the genesis of Serenity Spell; after hearing how so many locals were unaware of the magnificent parks and natural areas in this area (see the much-needed-updating Natural Areas and State & National Parks dropdowns, above — or the Categories section to the right), I was inspired to investigate more on my own. In today’s world, it’s critical to get outdoors and into nature. Hiking, even simple walks, gets the heart pumping, the muscles relaxed and stretched, and is an excellent way to improve overall health and mental alignment. It’s also cheap!
Click here to find an event near you for a National Trails Day event. Celebrate nature and promote our country’s parks and trails!
Oak Trees sheltering the Florida Trail, Jonathan Dickinson State Park
Equestrian trail signage in the Bluefield Natural Area
Pines along the trail in the Atlantic Ridge State Park
UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not. —The Lorax, by Dr. Seuss
Happy Earth Day, to this one and only, beautiful but non-disposable blue sphere of ours! This year’s theme is climate change: the faces of climate change and its impact on the planet.
Click here for a quick read on the Top 10 Ways to Make Every Day Earth Day — from using less water, to cutting back on printing, to curbing the bottled-water addiction. Incredibly easy tips for the average human! And if you’re up for a more intense viewing on the subject of climate change, here’s a TEDtalks clip featuring Allan Savory: “How to green the world’s deserts and reverse climate change.” It’s long, but completely fascinating.
The Faces of Climate Change: Earth Day 2013, Courtesy of the Earth Day Network
National Park Week 2013, Courtesy of the National Park Service
National Park Week is April 20-28, 2013 — So walk, meander, run, bike, or trail-ride your way to your nearest one! Admission to every national park is FREE Monday through Friday.
Love your national parks, national wildlife refuges, and national forests — numbering more than 2,000 — and continue to support them by your mere presence (especially now). And above all else, bask in the beauty of these wondrous spaces!
A Great blue heron rests in the Everglades of the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge
Heading into the dappled cypress swamp along the boardwalk in the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge
The cypress swamp in winter of the Big Cypress National Preserve
The remaining entrance fee-free dates for 2013 are:
- August 25 (National Park Service Birthday, or Pre-FeyGirl Birthday)
- September 28 (National Public Lands Day)
- November 9-11 (Veterans Day weekend)
There’s so much color in the depths of South Florida, but this little one’s not native to the area. It’s native to a region where I was raised (roundabout, anyways). When I think of COLOR, my brain always returns to the petite endangered Gouldian Finch — also known as the Rainbow Finch, appropriately.
This spectacularly-colored little bird is native to Australia, where their numbers have decreased dramatically throughout the 20th century due to habitat loss. They remain an endangered species in their natural habitat, with less than 2,500 remaining. While attempts at their reintroduction have proved unsuccessful, thankfully these lovely finches are the subject of a conservation program in Australia. There are currently plans to recover and conserve their natural habitats, with management guidelines in place to educate landholders about land management, promoting the recovery program, and Gouldian Finch conservation. They’re also popular birds in captivity and among breeders, which keeps their general populations higher.
Gouldian (Rainbow) Finch posing at his sanctuary in Butterfly World
In 1992, the species was classified as endangered in the wild. That same year, Catwoman stuffed a poor Gouldian into her mouth in Batman Returns — some say, to raise awareness for their plight.
Here’s to wishing all the best for this beautiful and bright little bird!