Exploring The Last Green Valley: New life and promise awaken as nature does this spring
“On this chill uncertain spring morning, towards twilight, I have heard the first frog quaver from the marsh. It always seems to me that no sooner do I hear the first frog trill that I find the first cloud of frog’s eggs in a wayside pool, so swiftly does the emergent creature pour out its cool fertility. There is life where before there was none.” – From “An Almanac for Moderns” by Donald Culross Peattie
Somewhere in my travels I purchased “An Almanac for Moderns,” by Donald Culross Peattie. Published in 1935, each page represents the author’s philosophical musings on nature for each day of the year. Unlike most almanacs, which begin with the start of the calendar year, Peattie starts his almanac on the first day of spring. The quote above is found on the first page of the book.
We are already 12 days into spring 2019, and it will be nice to see March in the rearview mirror. The month came in like a lion with a large dump of snow and blast of cold weather. Since then the daily temperature has moderated between 40 and 50 degrees during the day and below freezing at night – perfect temperatures for maple sugar producers.
Monday is April 1 (no fooling), and the month stretches before us with an abundance of life emerging in the natural world and activities to keep our early spring season filled with outdoor events.
The birds making their home in my backyard, pasture and woods are certainly more vocal now that March is sliding into April. Tufted titmice and black capped chickadee are tuning up their love songs, backed on rhythm by the hairy woodpecker drumming on hollow trunks and branches. The resonance of the quick staccato from his sharp beak can be heard for quite a distance.
I hear them each morning as I head to my truck for the drive to work. When time allows, I stop for a minute to listen and hear who might be about at the early hour. In the next few weeks the chorus of birds jostling for breeding and nesting territory will become a cacophony of music, especially as the migrating songbirds return from winter haunts to the south.
Soon, I’ll hear the unmistakable sound, and my eyes will scan the sky for the V of Canada geese heading north to their nesting grounds. The faint distant honking sound of the traveling northern flocks who breed and nest in Canada tells me spring is here. Our region does have year-round “resident” Canada geese. They have been here for decades and are the result of locally raised game birds who imprinted on the region following release for hunting.
Last year we had a female opossum who would make frequent nighttime visits to our backyard. I hope momma opossum is still around, for it is this month when the baby opossums are born. The babies are called joey and are so tiny at birth 20 of them could fit into a teaspoon. Opossums are North America’s only marsupial, which means they are tiny at birth and complete their development in a pouch on the mother’s body. Later this summer we may see our resident opossum waddle through the edge of woods, hugging the stone wall with several youngsters clinging to her back.
This month, as if by magic, the hills will suddenly look green. While some trees green up early in the season, like the willow growing near water, I always enjoy the miraculous morning when the green tint is everywhere along the hillsides — summer is near.
Every day is Earth Day when you live in The Last Green Valley. The rest of the world celebrates it April 22, and I encourage you to check TLGV’s Spring Outdoors calendar, your local papers and social media to find Earth Day happenings in your community.
Here at TLGV, April is when our cleanup program kicks off. Our program to assist community and nonprofit groups that organize cleanups has been so popular that this year we added more funds to the program.
TLGV will reimburse a nonprofit organization or municipal, regional, state or federal agency up to $500 for expenses such as publicity, cleanup supplies and food for your volunteers. We also help publicize your event and work with you to recruit more volunteers.
The application process is very easy, and information can be found at the TLGV website at: https://thelastgreenvalley.org/learn-protect/earth-month-river-clean-up/.
The cleanups also provide you and your family the opportunity to get out, chip in and help one or more of the organized community cleanups. There are already 20 planned throughout the region from Norwich to Sturbridge, Mass. TLGV can provide you with dates, locations and cleanup organizer contacts. Celebrate Earth Month by helping out as we work to keep The Last Green Valley not just green, but also clean.
Spring Outdoors kicked off March 20, moves into full swing in April and continues to the Summer Solstice in June. Hikes, paddles, trail biking, excursions, tours, bird watching and more await you as we get outdoors and explore the amazing natural and cultural resources of our region. You can get the entire schedule by downloading it from the TLGV website at: https://thelastgreenvalley.org/explore-the-last-green-valley/spring-outdoors/.
April is here, and the natural world awakens to the season of new life and promise. I hope you’ll join me and others as we care for, enjoy and pass on to the next generation this beautiful place we call home – The Last Green Valley National Heritage Corridor.
Bill Reid is chief ranger of The Last Green Valley National Heritage Corridor and has lived in the region for more than 35 years. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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