A week ago, I was all “bah, humbug!” about spring. And why not? With all that white stuff on the ground, temps below freezing, and Michigan’s renowned gray skies, a change of season seemed much more than two weeks away.
I saw the light. The sunlight.
While there’s still a skim of ice on Lake Wrenaissance, it no longer holds snow and the ice has begun to creep away from the shore. We may reach 60 degrees (F) this weekend.
Daylight Savings Time has made the days light longer into the evening.
We saw a Canada Goose walking behind the deck. Not as thrilling as the first robin as a harbinger of spring, but the geese disappeared when the water froze and haven’t been around for the past few months. It’s so much nicer to see them flying north instead of south.
I was surprised to realize that it’s been four years since I last blogged. I didn’t intend to stop, but I did intend to prioritize other activities more than blogging. It seems I was successful at that. So it goes. If you read this blog in its earlier iterations, you know I’m fond of the quote attributed to John Lennon, “Life is what happens while you’re making other plans.”
While I was making other plans, a lot of life happened. I lost both my parents in 2015. We downsized from a too-large house to a condo in 2017, and I retired from a successful career last fall, 2018. I’m four years older, as are Mr Wren and my cats, but the birds and squirrels outside my windows seem to be gifted with eternal youth. I’m still in the cold midwest, though I hear that if I hang around long enough, I’ll see Michigan become the new California.
I’m on a journey of exploration. For the first time in decades, I don’t have a roadmap for the trip. I’m looking for a compass, or many compasses, but also for the courage to step forward with no guidance and see what I stumble into.
It’s been a few days more than one year (525,600 minutes according to the lyrics from Rent) since I last blogged, and three times that since I blogged consistently. In that time, Google Reader disappeared and blogs were declared dead. Wrenaissance Reflections may have been quiet, but it’s not dead. I’ve missed blogging and missed being part of the nature blogger community. I am ready to resume but doing so will require some changes, such as moving from hosted WordPress to Blogger, allowing me to focus on content rather than technology. It will be slow at first. In addition to new posts, I will be moving older ones here bit by bit. In some ways, it’s same old, same old. In others, it’s a new adventure. I look forward to moving forward, and hope to see many friends old and new around cyberspace. Here’s a little nature to start:
A U-M squirrel: gray on the outside, maize and blue on the inside.
When Blogging Becomes a Slog – NYTimes.com A few case studies on blogger burnout. Blogging is demanding if you do it right. If you don’t, why bother? The article comments only in passing on community, however. For me, it’s one of the most important parts of doing this. I’ve met many good friends and colleagues through blogging, and it’s taken me places I wouldn’t have gone otherwise. It’s the community I miss, and which draws me back each time I stop. I’ve decided to start blogging again, and as much as I’ve loved playing with technology by having my own hosted WordPress site, I’m going to concentrate on content rather than container or platform.
Original Story: No bugs about it: New website helps users identify Michigan insects. For Dr. Leslie Mertz, the crawlers and flyers of the insect world are a source of fascination… To share her passion for nature’s smaller creatures, Mertz, a lecturer in the biology department at Eastern Michigan University, helped launch an interactive website, www.knowyourinsects.org, to help Michiganders identify the orders and suborders of insects in the state.
Those of you who share my interest in making backyards and other suburban spaces wildlife-friendly will enjoy this photo series from the New York Times, Species Close to Home. Times readers from around the world sent in photos of interesting or unusual animals they saw in their backyards. Some photos are wonderful photography and all share a love of animals and nature.
I took this photo in June, but the same hot and heavy weather is still with us in August. I imagine I can see the heat being gently exhaled by the earth and water behind us, rising up to surround everything and everyone outside
I had a great time observing the not-again-in-my-lifetime Transit of Venus earlier this month. Detroit Observatory is just a couple of blocks from my office, so as well as seeing the transit, I also made a much-overdue visit there and saw the historic telescope.
I’ve long resisted entering my observations in eBird. Too much trouble, too restrictive a format, and I don’t need all those fields – I just want a record of what species I’ve seen. Only compulsive listers would keep records that intense. What’s changed my mind? Partly practical considerations: Birdstack has closed, and I haven’t found listing software for the Mac that I like. Partly a belief that the world around us is changing as a result of human behavior, and that it’s important to address that change with a positive, effective response. The article that inspired this post, Early Bloomers, was in today’s New York Times online. A thoughtful piece, referencing and comparing Thoreau’s observations in the 1850′s with current bloom times and local species to reflect on the changes that come with urbanization and climate change. The authors of the Times article,RICHARD B. PRIMACK, ABRAHAM J. MILLER-RUSHING, and BECCA STADTLANDER, note “Despite their dramatic cumulative effects over the last 160 years, these changes would be largely imperceptible without the biological yardstick Thoreau’s records provide.” While I might wish to write like Thoreau, a more achievable goal is to provide a record of what I observe in a less literary form. I’m honored that eBird wants my data. In addition to not being a poet or essayist, I’m neither scientist nor expert birder. The memory of what I’ve seen and loved in the natural world would vanish without a trace. However, even if I can’t preserve the poetry, I can do this small thing to preserve the world.