Notes From a Naturalist: Season shifting

Mon, 11/14/2022 - 1:30pm

If you have followed these Ocean Views over the last year you will recall, or have observed, that I’ve been taken with the notion that the prime unit of time is a season. Generally, we are all familiar with a pattern that divides the
year into spring, summer, autumn and winter; and of late I’ve considered Block Island through the lens of about 73, Japanese-inspired, micro-seasons. (See Ocean Views March 2021 – February 2022.)
This is the week that I end my fall migration bird banding season, and I find that I’m looking forward to a shift in activity. I love fall bird banding: early peaceful mornings at the nets, watching for weather patterns that will bring birds
to the island, many occasions to share my enthusiasm with individuals, groups, students, etc., and watching the island’s wardrobe change from late summer greenery to November’s golden reds and tawny browns. But my energy for long, high-activity days is flagging; my mind and body need a restful shift.
As I think about how the nature of my work and life will change when I put the mist nets away, I’ve come to realize that I have my own distinct seasons. My yearly seasons can be demarcated in a variety of ways. Most simply, I have two
seasons. One of high energy, with lots of structure and interactions with many people both locally and from afar. These are the months of May through October; filled with migratory bird banding, summer programs, and plenty of field work involving many things from leading bird walks, chasing dragonflies, to tagging horseshoe crabs and monarch butterflies. My second season, November through April, is marked by a more flexible schedule filled with chores that require thoughtfulness, reflection, regeneration and assessment. This is a time filled with community nature and bird walks with neighbors and friends, time with students at the school, data entry related to the busy season’s field work, assessing the past season’s success and failures and planning for another year.
As the current occupant of the OVF Naturalist Perch at The Nature Conservancy I feel amazingly fortunate to have a job that I love, a job that is life-work. Please be indulgent of this unusually personal Ocean Views – I’m in a state of
seasonal transition. Soon I’ll be back to my more usual, focused columns.
Q. So, what season are we – on Block Island collectively – in?
A. It is the “Take a deep breath and enjoy the color and landscape” season.
November is a shifting season. In November, right before our very eyes, the presence of saw-whet owls may be replaced with snowy owls. Shellfish gatherers will leave quahogs in pursuit of scallops. Milkweed pods will crack and
disperse downy seeds.
In addition, we are in a month of amazing color. I hope you’ll join me in my season-shifting transition (and my embracing of a time of renewal) by noticing and walking about in the island’s November colors – we will be shrouded by the aura of a changing season.