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Posts from the ‘The Natural World’ Category

The Day the Sun Stood Still

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!

PAn with Dragonfly

The harbinger of good times: Pan with a companion dragonfly

Hit the Trails — It’s National Trails Day!

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.

Trails of the Yamato Scrub Natural Area, Florida

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 of the Florida Trail, Jonathan Dickinson State Park, Florida

Oak Trees sheltering the Florida Trail, Jonathan Dickinson State Park

Equestrian Trail, Bluefield Natural Area, Florida

Equestrian trail signage in the Bluefield Natural Area

Pines in the Atlantic Ridge State Park, Florida

Pines along the trail in the Atlantic Ridge State Park

Happy Anniversary, Earth!

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

The Faces of Climate Change: Earth Day 2013, Courtesy of the Earth Day Network

It’s National Park Week!

National Park Week 2013

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!

Great Blue Heron in Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, Florida

A Great blue heron rests in the Everglades of the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge

Boardwalk, Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, Florida

Heading into the dappled cypress swamp along the boardwalk in the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge

Cypress Swamp of the Big Cypress National Preserve

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)

Weekly Photo Challenge: Color

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 Finch (Rainbow Finch), Butterfly World, Florida

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!

 

The First Everglades Day: April 7, 2013!

Everglades Poster Celebrating Marjory Stoneman Douglas

Everglades Poster Celebrating Marjory Stoneman Douglas

The first-ever EVERGLADES DAY is this Sunday, April 7…. Fantastic! Many thanks to all of those who worked so hard to make this a legislative priority, highlighting and escalating issues surrounding the Everglades, as well as renewing the area’s restoration efforts. What a perfect time to visit and explore the ‘glades — and love this beautifully vital, rare, but endangered and always-threatened ecosystem. Check out the link below for events from Miami to Naples to West Palm Beach!

From the Everglades Foundation:

The first official Everglades Day will be celebrated on April 7, 2013. In addition to recognizing what an important resource this ecosystem is, not only to the state of Florida, but to America, the day  will also honor Everglades activist Marjory Stoneman Douglas, as it is designated to be held on her birthday.

The Florida Legislature voted  in favor of an Everglades Day on March 7, 2012. From a National Parks Conservation Association press release: “The state’s support for an official Everglades Day will ensure that the Everglades ecosystem remains a top priority for elected officials and all Floridians while honoring Douglas’s legacy for protecting the River of Grass. . . Each time we turn dirt on an Everglades restoration project, we are protecting our drinking water supply, creating jobs and fulfilling a promise to protect our national parks, wildlife, and family memories….”

Some of the sights from one of the event locations, Grassy Waters:

Alligator, Florida Everglades

Love and respect this place. Please.

Everglades Vista Along the Hog Hammock Trail, Grassy Waters Preserve, Florida

Everglades Vista Along the Hog Hammock Trail

NENA Signage, Hog Hammock Trail, Grassy Waters Preserve, Florida

NENA Signage

Protecting the Everglades

From Audubon Florida:

The Sugar Industry has launched an effort to further weaken Everglades cleanup efforts, load more of the expenses on the taxpayers, and have the Legislature attempt to nullify an important part of Florida’s Constitution. Your voice is needed right now to protect the Everglades — send a letter using the form below.

The House State Affairs Committee will act TOMORROW, Thursday, March 7 on a yet-unnumbered bill the Sugar industry has drafted. This bad bill attempts to insulate Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) farmers from having to do anything more to pay for or clean up their own pollution by codifying in law a dubious claim that Best management Practices (BMPs) are effectively reducing phosphorus pollution.

If the bill passes, the Everglades loses and you lose. Take action right now by sending a letter using the form below….

Click the Audubon Florida link here, to access more info and sign your name against “Sugar’s poison pill.” Help protect this already severely threatened, valuable ecosystem — the only one of its kind on the planet!

Great Egret in Grassy Waters Preserve, FL

Great Egret in Grassy Waters — historically a key component of the Everglades watershed

Big Cypress National Preserve

Cypress Swamp of the Big Cypress National Preserve, Everglades

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