Despite spring being in full swing, here’s beautiful piece written by Spencer Kellum of the Stewardship Network on the changing of seasons and what it means for our local ecosystems:
Spring: A Season of Change and Opportunity
By Spencer Kellum
Ah, spring… The time of the year when the snow melts, birds embark on their annual migrations, and the dormant green world comes alive again. Spring is a season of change – warmer temperatures, longer days, blooming flowers, and running sap. We humans change too. The long, gray days of winter are behind us, and we begin to lean into the warm summer days ahead. But right now, in this spring moment, we start thinking about getting outside. We start thinking about tuning up our lawn mowers or raking up the leaves that have been hiding under the snow since last fall. We start thinking about putting air into our bicycle tires or lacing up our shoes to visit a local hiking trail. Or we start thinking about simply being outside – sitting at a park bench or on our front porch. Spring evokes a sense of re-birth and rejuvenation, and our human spirit can’t help but prod us to get outside and rejoice in the arrival of a new season.
During spring forays out into your local community, you may notice your fellow humans doing some seemingly peculiar things. Spring is the season when people begin prescribed burning in parks, backyards, fields, and fencerows. Historically, fires burned regularly across much of our area, and our native prairies, woodlands, and wetlands thrived as a result. Often set by Native Americans, fire would burn the previous year’s dead grasses, flowers, and leaves, thus clearing the ground for new growth and the rejuvenation of the species native to our land. Today, fire professionals or other well-trained people use fire for many reasons. Sometimes fire is used to improve the health of forests, prairies, and wetlands by promoting fire-adapted native plant species and controlling invasive species. Other times fire is used to clear overgrown fencerows and ditches and prepare agricultural fields for planting. No matter the purpose, fire is a key indicator that spring has arrived, and that it’s time to get outside and actively care for our land.
As spring continues, you may also notice swarms of volunteers convening on a local park or preserve. Or you might notice your neighbor stooped over pulling weeds from his or her wooded backyard. With spring comes garlic mustard. Garlic mustard is a tall, spindly, bright green plant that you can find growing along roads, easements, and within woodlands this time of year. It’s an invasive plant, which means it’s not from our region, and it aggressively out-competes our native wildflowers and tree seedlings.Because garlic mustard evolved on different a continent, our native animals and insects cannot digest garlic mustard and therefore do not eat it. People – volunteers, neighbors, and professionals alike – join together each spring to pull garlic mustard and help keep this invasive plant in check. Pulling garlic mustard is a simple, meditative exercise that offers you an opportunity to re-discover the woods of your youth or to explore a nearby park – all while enjoying the changing beauty of spring.
Spring is a season of change, a season to celebrate, and a season to be outside. What you do while you’re out there is up to you – some burn, while others pull garlic mustard. Whatever your inclination – to learn, to enjoy, to save, to care, or to explore – spring comes and invites us yet again to go outside and enjoy the changes!
Have a great week!