Sunday, January 27, 2008


I've been a little slow to update lately, as I've had a lot of external stuff going on that has nothing to do with grad school or environmental thought. I hope to go back to writing more than once a week just so that I can keep writing for enjoyment, instead of just taking notes and writing things for class.

I found a cute cartoon online that was inspired by Richard Louv (left) and the No Child Left Inside thing. Nice to see that other people are worried about the issue, too.

A few things have happened in school lately, and I'll quickly update you - with a thin promise of more detail later.

My classes for the semester are Evolutionary Ecology, Ecological Economics & Public Policy, Learning Development & Theory and Mammalogy. The last one was a last-minute change. I was signed up for Herpetlogy (study of reptiles and amphibians) but didn't want to take it, I was wait listed for the other class. A half hour before the first class was to begin I got a notification that the course was open. I'm excited that I get to study mammals instead. It's a course in tracking, scatology and mammal behavior. I am totally psyched tonight, actually, because we had fresh snow today, and I'm breaking in my new snowshoes tomorrow looking for my first tracks. (snowshoes were highly recommended and/or manditory for the course, so I picked up some at Play it Again Sports for a pretty good deal.)

I've only recieved three out of the four grades for the past semester, I got a Very Good in both Foundations of Environmental Education and Evolutionary Ecology. I got a Good in Community Ecology of the New England Landscape - and honestly, I think I deserved it because it was the course that came last when I was taking care of everything each week. I didn't put my heart fully into that one, but I did learn a lot. I'm a little annoyed about the Evolutionary Ecology. I was sure I'd be getting an Excellent in that in at least the class participation part... but I got Very Goods across the board. I thought I did better than that, honestly, but I'll take the V. The last one that I'm still waiting on a grade for is Language of Nature... and I'm not sure on that. I loved that course immensely, but its a very subjective grading system, so I am just going to have to wait and see.

More thoughts later...

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

the snowman

I'm sitting this morning, looking outside at the slushy snow on a gray winter day, watching two young parents making a snowman with their little girl (about 5 years old), because it is warm outside and the snow is such good packing it just begs for it.

As I was watching them play, I had a thought. I can safely venture that this family doesn't have a lot of money, as the parents are very young. Where I live is not a very affluent apartment building, and there are usually kids running around outside.

I began to think back, again, to my childhood. Playing outside, playing in the neighborhood is not only good for kids socially, gets them outside and lets them find themselves, it is also free. There is no video game console to purchase, no controller needed to experience nature. Could it be, simply, that those who are naturally letting their kids outside today are the ones with less money? If you don't have the $800 to spend on a Nintendo Wii, are you more willing to encourage your child to play outside, or offer them different opportunities to do so?

It is a question that just popped into my head, and I wonder if the next generation of kids in touch with nature will be the ones who grew up in the lower middle class, without access to the technology that kids have in their faces all the time in more affluent homes. Also, how can we reach those who do have more resources in their family and get them to allow their children to do the same things that the middle class parents thought of naturally?

For now, I'm just tickled pink to see that families still do things together and play outside.

growing up

There is a lot coming ahead this year, and a lot of changes to my life are still afoot.

I decided that this year I will be trying to eat differently. I am going to try and shift my diet in the direction of fruits and veggies, and while picking them and learning how to cook with them, I plan to choose local and/or organic fruits and veggies. I touched on this a bit before when I talked about silent spring, and my gut reaction to the pesticides on them. I've had time to think about it and it is healthier for me to get fresh fruit and veggies instead of processed things or things that have been sprayed with tons of pesticides and preservatives. I want to expand my cooking skills, too, so that would be an interesting challenge. Also, I'd like to support the local community here, and I'm quite curious about the possibility of getting a farm share, and perhaps splitting it with Lincoln, who cooks more often than I do. (Or just giving him the leftovers, perhaps).

What a farm share is depends on the farm that you're talking about. Farms that grow food locally sell "shares" of what they grow to consumers, and that money helps pay for the farm. How it works in most places is that you get a basket of fresh food once a week, depending on what is growing at the time. You then use that food all week and then get another basket the following week. It may be ambitious, but I'm thinking that it would open up a lot of new recipes for me and save money in the long run. Also, it would allow me to more naturally eat what is in season at the time - squashes in the fall, berries in july, etc., and be more in touch with the natural rhythm of agriculture.

Just like my arguments against daylight savings time, I think that we've become very removed from the rhythm of nature itself in our current society. People would not groan so much about it being "dark" when they leave for work, or "dark" when they come home if we got rid of daylight savings time. Our bodies would have time to adjust to the incremental changes that happen through the seasons. If each day it is a little darker or a little lighter outside, our bodies adjust. The same goes for food. We're so conditioned to having whatever type of food that we want whenever we want it, we're out of touch with what is actually in season during the year. Global trade has allowed us to forget the difference between native and exotic fruits and veggies. I think that by buying what is in season from local growers, I can be a bit more in touch with my "roots" if you'll pardon the pun.