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.
In September, I wrote:
It’s hard to know what to write here. One month ago, I thought I was slowing down the number of posts on Wrenaissance for a while. I thought I was going to the Midwest Birding Symposium as an official blogger. I thought I had an overly busy and heavily scheduled life.
One of my favorite quotes is “Life is what happens while you’re making plans.” Life happened. Out of nowhere, the sudden illness and death of an immediate family member has set us reeling.
I’ve had a longer break from blogging than I expected. I missed going to the MBS, let alone blogging it. My schedule is in tatters, and obligations are unmet. So I sit here, and for a change I have no plan for blogging, for birding, or for the rest of my life’s affairs. I don’t know how often I’ll be posting here, or what my content will be. For a time, I need to stop thinking, stop planning, and let life happen.
Updated January 8, 2012
Thank you to those who sent private comments or emails while I’ve been off line. Your kind words and encouragement are much appreciated, and they have helped more than you know.
I’m going to continue in a low-maintenance mode for the foreseeable future,
including moving back to blogger (wrenaissance.blogspot.com) and sharing primarily through less involved platforms such as Googl i e plus. We’ll see where that leads.
It’s been great doing this. I’ve learned a lot, and I’ve gotten to know some terrific people. I hope I’ll still see you out and about in cyberspace.
Updated again June 23, 2013
I never did get moved over to Blogger, but I also haven’t resumed blogging in any real way. Still, I haven’t completely given up on the idea, or the format – hence the new design and some ongoing reformatting. Google Reader’s demise to the contrary, blogs are not dead.
Wind moving through the grass or the trees has long been a metaphor for change.
When I started my website, long before it was a blog, I thought I’d be sharing information about backyard wildlife habitats, and that my enthusiasm would be contagious. In those long-ago days, the internet was lightly populated compared to today. Now there are many sites from large, reputable organizations with high visibility which fill the information niche and promote habitats and other conservation practices.
As a birder and naturalist, I’m a perpetual beginner. I appreciate the beautiful and the interesting, but I don’t need to be an expert. There are numerous blogs from professional and amateur naturalists that share rich, detailed information about plants and animals culled from years of study or days of intense research. My contribution to this conversation is one of many, and in some ways superficial.
Given this, and with new professional responsibilities that take more of my time, I considered closing the blog. Writing is slow and cumbersome for me. One of the reasons I began blogging was to develop my writing skills, but that development is only possible with regular writing. Being realistic about the time I have to devote to blogging, it’s unlikely that I’ll practice enough writing to improve it. I could make time, but that I don’t says something as well.
Nonetheless, I don’t want to give up blogging. Over time, the blogosphere has become more about community and less about content for me, and I want to continue to be part of that community. I’ll continue here with more photos and less writing, posting less often. Following Klaus’s untimely passing, the Skywatch team has decided to continue that meme,
and I’ll be taking more of a role there. Most of this has already happened. It’s my desire for closure that motivates this post, not the need to give notice of change.
Welcome to the new Wrenaissance. Thank you for reading and for your comments. You are my community.