Tag Archives: nature

Today: A walk in the woods at Stony Brook Wildlife Sanctuary.

Thanks to C. Columbus, his holiday and his poor navigation skills (He was headed to India, right? …Also: The same day is celebrated as Native American Day in South Dakota and Indigenous People’s Day in places like Seattle and Minneapolis.  These seem like much more worthy holidays.), my office was closed on Monday.  I kept Grace home from daycare (“We’re havin’ a Diva Day!“) and joined my parents and younger brother for a walk in the woods.

We bundled up the baby and headed down to the Stony Brook Wildlife Sanctuary in Norfolk (about a 40 minute drive from the city) and followed a two mile loop through the woods and marsh and across a few streams.  Most of the pathways are flat and there are designated trails for strollers and wheelchairs.

I picked up all kinds of gorgeous fallen leaves (and, feeling inspired, got out my watercolors as soon as we got home) and then convinced myself during the drive back to the city that I had poison ivy.  I did not.  In other words: A normal day, but with fresher air, fewer people flipping me off in traffic, less noise, and more vibrant scenery.

A walk in the woods

outdoor classroom at Stony Brook

We used my parents’ Audubon membership (which seems like a very grown-up thing to have) to access the wildlife sanctuary, and I remembered how much fun we had at places like this and the Trailside Museum when we were younger.  There are a number of Massachusetts Audubon sites close to the city, so I figured it was worth checking out.  I didn’t realize how much programming (including art classes, yoga, and something called an Owl Prowl…) they do at individual centers.

A few upcoming events at local Audubon sites:

And how’s this for timing: Memberships are currently discounted ($32 for a family or individual membership) through the end of November.  I am now one membership card closer to becoming America’s Next Top Nature Model a fun parent.

Also On Tap for Today:

What was your favorite field trip as a kid?  As an allergic-to-wool-person, I can tell you my least favorite was definitely the Lowell Mills (all 4 trips we made there).

Today: Put this in your pocket. This, too.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false] That James Taylor, man.  He knows what’s up.

Oh, Mexico
It sounds so sweet with the sun sinking low
Moon’s so bright like to light up the night
Make everything all right

Our second and third ports of call aboard the Oasis of the Seas were in Mexico.  We first stopped in Costa Maya, a small tourist area (think the Epcot version of Mexico) on the Caribbean coast of Mexico, near the villages of Mahahual and Xcalak.  From Costa Maya, Nick, Tim, Stacey and I left the tourist area and took a bus through the jungle to a pristine, white sand beach for the afternoon.

This is where my soon-to-be-trademarked (you know, like, if I ever get around to it) Cool Stuff Explorations were born.  The concept is not new, but the name, at least, is hot and fresh.  When I was younger (like, 27 or so), I’d walk up and down Pleasant Road Beach or along Red River with my dad and collect cool stuff– mostly scallop shells and those shells that look like Cape Cod Potato Chips.  When the volume of cool stuff exceeded the space in my hands, I’d ask my dad to start loading up his pockets (women’s bathing suits just don’t have ’em).  By the time we’d get back to the beach blanket, I would have single-handedly disrupted and entire ecosystem and possibly given my dad scoliosis.

Anyway.  The Cool Stuff Explorations in Mahahual were incredible.  Uvero Beach is located on the second largest coral reef on the planet (if you want to know where the actual largest reef is, just ask my sister and her koala friends).  That means all kinds of amazing stuff decorated the shoreline.  And since no one stopped me, I started collecting and never looked back (until it was time to go, obvi.).

Basically, the rules of Cool Stuff Explorations are as follows:

  1. Don’t take anything living.  Cool as that thing might be, it could bite you and you also might get arrested.
  2. Only take what you (or your pocket-equipped companion) can carry.
  3. Be judicious in your selection– it’s only a Cool Stuff Exploration if the stuff you explore for is… well… cool.
  4. Have a end in mind, like, say, making coral Christmas ornaments for everyone you know (consider that surprise ruined!).
  5. Wonder and awe are perfectly acceptable ends.  Repeatedly declaring how amazed you are by Mother Nature is encouraged.
  6. Rule number 6 of Cool Stuff Explorations is that you can totally tell other people about Cool Stuff Explorations.  Fight Club, this is not.


For now, my cool stuff is populating a glass bowl on our coffee table.

I like to sift through the pieces of dried coral and match it to the living coral in Nick’s tank.  They’re nestled in between the perfect white shells I nabbed from the sandbar in Haiti.  If Clark had his way, he’d toss a stick or two in there.  It’s like my very own treasure chest, but better because it’s wide open (and not on the floor of the ocean).  Stay tuned (but not so tuned that you don’t get anything done) for photos and tales from our visit to the Mayan ruins at Tulum and (you better believe it!) more Cool Stuff Explorations.

Also On Tap for Today:

  • Work on our condo begins today! Woot!
  • Putting away the vacation summer clothes (again)
  • Are you Cyber Mondaying?

What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever found?

Today: Listen to the trees.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false] I picked up a bookmark at the Chapel Meeting House earlier this fall and couldn’t help but think of the bookmark’s poem as I scrolled through the pictures I took this morning while strolling with Clark.  Though South Boston isn’t exactly woodland, I suppose its trees still have advice to offer.  Like, perhaps, You’re clogging up the sidewalk with your big camera and little dog, lady.  Move along.

The poem ends with “recycle, recycle, recycle,” but the photo I snapped of crushed Budweiser cans strewn about the park didn’t seem all that inspiring.  Besides, it’s practically 2011.  Everyone knows to recycle.  Right?

Also On Tap for Today:

  • Sending my sincere gratitude to all veterans and their families; your gift of service to our country is so appreciated.
  • 12.5 miles in the neighborhood 🙂
  • Taking my first sewing lesson!

What have you learned from nature lately?

Today: Step away from the dune.

Erosion is no laughing matter, people.  As I read on the front page of this Sunday’s Boston Globe, one of my favorite beaches is closed for the next two weeks as the stairs (which are insane, and totally unsafe when crowded by tourists and their umbrellas and inflatable alligators) are rebuilt.  Marconi and the rest of the Cape’s National Seashore, which includes Nauset and Coast Guard, have been hit by some major erosion due to this winter’s storms.  Welp, storms… and years of dune-climbing by misbehaved children and misinformed adults.

Workers installed a section of a new staircase being built at Marconi Beach in Wellfleet. (Photo by John Tlumacki/Globe Staff)

It seems like every summer we watch at least one person shamefully being escorted from the beach by Park Rangers after attempting to or succeeding in sliding down the giant dunes at Marconi. The worst are the people who randomly appear atop the dunes, several hundred yards from the proper beach entrance, throw their beach chairs and coolers down before them and start to slide… only to be lodged halfway between top and beachdom.  Where the heck are these people coming from?  I will personally fork over the $40 for a season’s parking pass if that’s what will prevent you from ruining the Earth.

Spoken (Tweeted?) like a true ambassador of the Earth and enforcer of the dunes.

Side bar: I’m no scientist, but if I had to guess, I am pretty sure the erosion process speeds up if you’re wearing a Yankees hat on the Cape.

It’s all fun and games until the stairs collapse and the fragile ecosystem hangs in peril and not-so-suddenly our beloved beach is closed. Dingbats.

Source: www.best-of-cape-cod.com

We may not be able to control Mother Nature and her stormy winters, but we can control our behavior and that of our dependents.  So please, people, step away from the dune. And, if you’re venturing to Marconi this summer and want to avoid looking like a rookie, leave your aforementioned umbrella and alligator at home.  All you need is sunscreen and a boogie board to catch the wave of your life.  Or whatever.

If you’re less curious about naughty dune sliders, and wonder about nature, please read on.  Otherwise, thank you for your attention.  I’ll let you off with a warning.  This time.

For Your Information:

Do you think I can trick Under Armour into outfitting the Dune Police?  I’d sell my soul to see Katie on television shouting, “Protect this Dune!”

Also On Tap for Today:

What steps (get it… like the broken stairs… uh) do you take to protect Mother Nature’s house?

Today: Oh, crap.

I was walking from my office to a meeting early this morning, about to pass through our garage, when suddenly a passing bird pooped directly on my forehead.

The parking attendant on duty caught the tail (feathered) end of the situation, seeing me holding my head and looking panicked, and misjudged the situation, thinking I was about to faint.

Maybe I did temporarily faint (so quickly that I didn’t have the chance to fall over) because I have no idea what happened for several minutes after that.

Regardless, the lovely attendant gave me a tissue from his pocket and I made a mad dash for my car to um, wipe the crap from my forehead.  Mind you, I had exactly three minutes before I was supposed to meet a colleague.  I Purelled my face with reckless abandon, which felt not unlike bathing in chemicals, and tried to pull myself together.

I doubt that anyone who believe getting bird poop on you is good luck has ever been shat upon.  Take it from me (I am now a two-time veteran in the war on bird turd): there’s nothing lucky about it.

It is a little funny, though.  And it’s totally okay if you’re laughing at me, not with me, in this moment.

Also On Tap for Today:

What’s the most mortifying moment you endured this week?

Today: Read to relax.

When I’m feeling a bit crazed and caught up in this (kind of) chic, urban, fast-paced, (sort of) young professional life that I live, I call on an old friend and he calms me down.

Technically, John Burroughs and I are not friends… and, welp, he died in 1921.  Moreover, he  would have found me ridiculous.  And annoying.  But I do Yahoo him on the reg; his writing calms me down.  That’s basically the only true statement I’ve made so far.

Image source: Wikipedia, naturally

Isn’t he cute?  He’s like the conservationist version of a Polly Pocket. I just want to scoop him up and carry him around on days like this, when my brain’s about to explode all over my Dell All-In-One piece of crap printer.  Messy, I know.

Or last month, when someone on an upper floor threw several stacks of paper (very un-green) and later, a stapler, out the window.  This is what John Burroughs has to say on days like that,

The longer I live, the more my mind dwells upon the beauty and wonder of the world.

I have loved the feel of grass under my feet, and the sound of the running streams by my side.

The hum of the wind in the treetops has always been good music to me, and the face of the fields has often comforted me more than the faces of men.

I am in love with this world.. I have tilled its soil, I have gathered its harvest, I have waited upon its seasons, and always have I reaped what I have sown.

I have climbed its mountains, roamed its forests, sailed its waters, crossed its deserts, felt the sting of its frost, the oppression of its heats, the drench of its rains, the fury of its winds, and always have beauty and joy waited upon my comings and goings.

Beautiful, wouldn’t you say?  I bet he was a real catch.  You know, back when he was alive.

Also On Tap for Today:

Do you have a go-to writer or passage for when you’re feeling frazzled?

Joseph D. Warren; educator, activist inspired many