In honour of Earth Day, especially when this day in 2014 is grey and wet and there is little colour yet to be seen, I give you hope but I also give you a challenge….
How are you celebrating? Have you gone searching for the earliest spring blooming perennials in your garden?
Did you skip your clean-up last fall and are you having now to unearth blooms from under a blanket of wet leaves?
Are you seeing these beauties in other peoples’ gardens? Are you now making plans for this autumn, searching for Chionodoxa, primrose and other jewels to enjoy in your own space next spring?
This spring, I challenge you to not simply look down and appreciate the plants. I challenge you to take a garbage bag with you on your next walk and pick up plastic, pop cans, other peoples’ trash — there is nothing that makes a landscape more unhappy and feel more unloved. And if this blight is on your regular commute, you see it everyday and it chisels away part of your soul and your feelings of hope for the future. Make the world, your small piece of the world, a place that can bring joy instead of discouragement. Honour a small part of your world and clean it up. Do it in honour of Earth Day…
But do more than this: tell me about it! Take “before” and “after” photos and I’ll post them — and give you kudos for a job well done.
As we enjoyed the sun and heat of February in Florida, we were on a perpetual quest to find friendly places where we could bring Skye-dog and allow her to walk with us without the fear of poison ivy, sand burrs, crazy oblivious tourist drivers and those with dog phobias.
We, like many others before us, made our pilgrimage to Sanibel Island (off the coast from Fort Myers on Florida’s gulf side), which is known for unparalleled shelling, white beaches and being friendly to visiting dogs.
But we didn’t really care to spend much time on the beaches; temperatures in the 80s and all that made trekking in the hot sun brutal! Especially with a black dog…
…and with no shade, unless you owned one of the mega-homes on either island and could sit on your covered porch, sipping a gin and tonic, you were on your own.
Our destination ended up being the Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge, which comprises over 6000 acres on the northern half of Sanibel Island. Yes, the entire northern half of the island has remained free from builders!
This parcel of land, wetland, inlets, mud flats and mangrove was saved from development when conservationist, angler and hunter Jay Norwood Darling (who also happened to be a well-known political cartoonist) convinced President Harry Truman to ensure its protection. Truman signed an executive order creating the Sanibel National Wildlife Refuge in 1945 and in 1967, five years after Darling’s death, it was re-named the Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge — ‘Ding’ was his ‘nom de plume’ (leaving off the ‘arl’ in his name). Darling had twice won a Pulitzer Prize for his inspirational editorial cartoons (in 1924 and 1942) and in 1934, then president Franklin Roosevelt rewarded him by appointing him Director of the U.S. Biological Survey, the precursor of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Darling designed the national symbol for the refuge system called the Blue Goose, which Rachel Carson (author of Silent Spring, conservationist, environmentalist and scientist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from 1932 to 1952) referenced here:
“Wherever you meet this sign, respect it. It means that the land behind the sign has been dedicated by the American people to preserving, for themselves and their children, as much of our native wildlife as can be retained along with our modern civilization.”
The boardwalks here afford the visitor a view of the mangroves from above, a rare vantage point. Entering the park, parking and walking along these peripheral trails is free — a bonus to entrance-fee weary travellers.
There are many birds to set your eyes on here: pelicans, egret, ibis, herons and more…
But what I really loved were the little suitcases placed along the handrails with what appeared to be life-like lumps of poo.
Charming to both young and old, the handle beckons. So you dutifully open and find this …
AHA! Scat. Coyote poo. This particular kind of thing will definitely come in handy.
And so you go along and make guesses. What kind of poo is this?
I’d guess it is something large…..
What a wonderful interactive way of learning, for big and little kids.