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warbler inspiration

Need a little inspiration to get moving today, chase your dreams, touch the sun?

Photo by Sander van der Wel via Wikimedia Commons

Well, I’m always here to tell you that anything is possible. This backcountry maiden turned MaryJanesFarm maven knows what she’s talkin’ about, sister.

But, if you won’t take my word for it, take the tweet of a simple songbird instead …

Photo by William H. Majoros via Wikimedia Commons

Meet the blackpoll warbler.

This unassuming pipsqueak, small enough to perch on your hand, is an unsung marvel.

Photo by PJTurgeon via Wikimedia

On wings measuring no more than 9″ from tip to tip, the blackpoll warbler flies over 1,500 miles in about three days. Fifteen HUNDRED miles. Three DAYS. You do the math. And, did I mention that most of those miles are flown over OPEN OCEAN???

Photo by Yinan Chen via Wikimedia Commons

Yeah.

Makes getting out of bed on a tough day seem an itsy bit easier, dontcha know?

The widely wandering warbler’s mind-boggling migration was something of a myth among scientists until recently. They knew that these birds made a l-o-n-g trip from northeastern Canada, across the Atlantic, to wintering grounds in South America. But they couldn’t quite believe that the epic voyage occurred in fast forward, nonstop, until a study by researcher Dr. Bill DeLuca from the University of Massachusetts Amherst said it was so.

“For small songbirds, we are only just now beginning to understand the migratory routes that connect temperate breeding grounds to tropical wintering areas,” DeLuca explained. “We’re really excited to report that this is one of the longest nonstop overwater flights ever recorded for a songbird and finally confirms what has long been believed to be one of the most extraordinary migratory feats on the planet.”

The moral of this story?

If the blackpoll warbler can span the sea with a flutter of feathers, you can do anything you set your mind to.

ANYTHING.

Keep your chin up, spread those wings, and make it happen.

Nike Victory statue, Tony Smith via Flickr.com

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every kid in a park

If you have a child or grandkid who will be in fourth grade next year, you might want to plan your 2016 vacation around the “Every Kid in a Park” initiative.

Photo by OakleyOriginals via Wikimedia Commons

Here’s the skinny:

President Obama’s forthcoming Every Kid in a Park initiative will give fourth graders and their families free admission to all U.S. national parks and other federal lands for a whole year.

That’s a pretty sweet deal, but it begs the question … why fourth graders?

Photo of Junior Rangers Kid’s Kamp by Albert Herring via Wikimedia Commons

A White House official told ABC News, “The National Park Service and other land and water agencies already have fourth grade programming in place in many locations. Many states focus on state history during the fourth grade, which aligns well with what NPS and other land managers have to offer.”

Photo Erica Szlosek, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, via Wikimedia Commons

“Thanks to our public-private partnerships, we are able to open up a world of experiential learning in our nation’s largest classrooms—our national parks,” says Dan Wenk, president of the National Park Foundation. “Every Kid in a Park will enhance this important work and will give many youth and their families the opportunity to explore our national parks for the first time.”

Photo by Steve Hillebrand, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, via Wikimedia Commons

Through the initiative, which is just one component of a celebratory preparation for the 100th birthday of the National Park Service next year, the White House will help families plan trips to nearby parks and provide educational materials, field trip guides, science labs, and transportation support, in the form of grants, to schools with the most need.”

If you pledge your support the Every Kid in a Park initiative here, you’ll be able to download a free copy of the National Park Service, Parks for Play: 35 National Park Adventures for Kids of All Ages. Continue reading

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the art of nature

One of the signs of spring here at the farm is our rushing river. Merely a meandering creek the rest of the year, in springtime, the little creek fills with water and rushes through the farm. Even though we barely got a sprinkling of snow this year, the creek is still rushing—a reassuring sound that all is right in my world.

And that made me think of a wonderful documentary film I saw a few years back about Scottish artist Andy Goldsworthy. Andy’s known for an art form he calls “site-specific sculpture.” It’s all about nature. And although he’s made permanent pieces from rock and other sturdy materials, the bulk of his art is impermanent, made from small stones, twigs, leaves, and even frost, placed in intricate patterns that might tumble, rush down the river, or blow away in the blink of an eye. His impermanent installations are also made with no tools to speak of—just Andy’s bare hands and whatever he finds in nature that can be used as his tools.

Leaves in river, http://www.goldsworthy.cc.gla.ac.uk

Beech leaves
collected only the deepest orange
from within the undergrowth
protected from sunlight
unfaded
each leaf threaded to the next by its own stalk …

Leaf horn, http://www.goldsworthy.cc.gla.ac.uk

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Leaves, http://www.goldsworthy.cc.gla.ac.uk

“I think it’s incredibly brave to be working with flowers and leaves and petals,” says Andy. “But I have to; I can’t edit the materials I work with. My remit is to work with nature as a whole.”

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Sticks and stones, http://www.goldsworthy.cc.gla.ac.uk

Watch Andy’s gorgeous and inspiring 90-minute documentary, Rivers and Tides, here. It just might change the way you look at the world right outside your door. Continue reading

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