Nature Notes, December 2023

Bearsville Center Nature Notes, December, 2023

It’s been a year now since Lizzie and I started working on these Nature Notes and the Nature Trail at the Bearsville Center and I couldn’t be happier! Designing and making the Nature Trail, and its Pollinator Pathway Meadow (below, right, at the Meadow Trailhead), has been a real joy and a true labor of love.

I’m very proud of how it has turned out. I can also say that the Nature Notes accurately reflect the dynamic nature of the trail and of the woods they travel through. I think the future they have in store will be a wonderful one for all of us - animals and people - who love the Bearsville Center. Speaking of dynamic change - we have to expand the Parking Lot to meet Town zoning requirements and part of the trail will be disrupted for a while, but will be better in the long run.

Please “bear” with us (get it? Sorry - couldn’t resist it). Thank you all.

Fading Colors

As the fall colors of 2017 slowly dissipate, melting into the Catskills landscape, they gradually change into the more somber tones we associate with winter. Sort of like a fire, if you consider midsummer the highest fire-flame, then now you might see the embers fade, almost as if the fire is going out. Luckily for us, the fire of life in the earth never really goes out, but just hides in plain sight, hidden under bark or deep in root, waiting for warmth to return. It’s almost like a fire that has been well-banked to keep the buried embers hot to wait for spring-time, the season of life, for them to be stoked back to warm, vibrant life.

Winter Arrives

Yep, it's undeniable now - winter is here. All the signs are present. Everyone of the animals and plants are each dealing with it in their own way, some migrating to warmer climes, some preparing to hunker down for the winter.

I think it is so interesting that the adaptation of most plants in the northeast is a kind of "migration in place". They shed all of their leaves, using them to create more soil and as insulation for their roots, which will soon contain all of the plant's life-blood - its sap - stored safely below ground, under the frost-line, 'til spring-time, when it all starts all over again - amazing (see our beautiful Dawn Redwood, above left).

Our biggest population of large mammals - people - doesn't have the options the wild animals do. Yes, we can migrate south (and some do) but most of us will simply add more warm layers, turn the thermostat up or put more wood on the fire. And like all the other creatures - big and small, animal or plant - we'll hunker down and try to stay warm and out of the wind as best we can.

If summer is the time for us to "make hay" to do, do, do, then this is a time for us to contemplate what we did, did, did this past year, how we grew and learned, and also it is a time for us to reflect on how we can do better during the next revolution of our planet around its star. The Bearsville Center reflects this dynamism and will be an even better experience for all in 2024 than it was in 2023. We hope you all have a healthy, warm and safe winter.

Thank you.