Sunday, March 20, 2011

Follow the Season - Spring

Despite this evening’s forecast – 20 degrees and snow – today really is the first day of spring. The vernal equinox. One of two magical days where the length of day is balanced by the length of night. From here on out the days get longer.

The last few days the air has smelled like spring – well, that and hot maple syrup. Chickadees have added upbeat songs to their repertoire; sparrows and juncos cluster on the lawn picking millet out of the dead grass. Spears of daffodil leaves have pushed up from the lawn and the soil smells fresh, sweet.

It’s noisy, too. In addition to the cooing of mourning doves there’s the sound of water running down hill, the gentle hum of honeybees stretching their wings, the schlook of mud beneath my sneakers.

Now is the time to grab a notebook and document the changing season. Maybe you want to map where the sun rises each morning, or keep a lookout for the first bumblebees. Or maybe you want to document when the first flowers bud and bloom.

There’s a whole field of study that documents the timing of biological events in plants and animals such as flowering, leafing, hibernation, reproduction, and migration. It’s called “phenology”, and scientists involved in this field are interested in the timing of such biological events in relation to changes in season and climate.

You can contribute to this research by getting involved in Project Budburst.

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