Early April, 2020 I’ll bet you’re getting way more nature than usual for this time of year—one of the surprising silver linings to this tragic time. My own winter projects have involved less bushwacking than typing, mostly related to journaling: both recent reports from 2019 summer adventures, and long-ago journals going back to my first year in Alaska, 1977. For this project I’ve borrowed a high-end slide scanner from Gustavus historian Jim Mackovjak, and am sifting my way through thousands of 35mm slides. These will be integrated into 42 annual fieldnote compilations (and counting), ultimately downloadable, I hope, from JuneauNature. Information in these journals exceeds what’s currently on this website by somewhere between one and two orders of magnitude.
Mulling covid-19 mortality risk-factors (pushing 70, check; cardio issues, check) reminds you those ‘someday-I’ll-do-that’ projects on the back-burner are just what our doctors ordered. Storying and illustrating a life’s work may be the perfect assignment for “sheltering in place“—the homey new buzzword for 2020. Enough with the low-stress do-dah; this is actually fun.
In a recent phone conversation, Discovery ED Shawn Eisele mentioned there would likewise never be a better time for regular outreach to DSE members. Our mission—helping Southeasterners connect to nature—is at once more challenging and more essential. Ideally the subjects of spring-2020 JuneauNature posts should be timely, like, what restless isolationists can see outside right now. So in a moment, I’ll give you one of those from a swan encounter yesterday. But I also can’t resist sharing some of the rear-view mirror discoveries that keep popping up as I dust off kodachrome slides from 30 years ago. They’re even relevant—I swear—to April-2020 bird arrivals and plant sproutings
In the early 1990s, for example, I established photo stations throughout my home at Asx‘ée twisted tree (Eagle River). I returned several times a year to repicture forest, tidal marsh, river spit and uplift parkland as these habitats morphed through the seasons. Unlike the later RP (Repeat Photography) project with Kathy Hocker, these retakes were done on a more rapid turnaround, repeating my own originals. Here’s a 3-minute slideshow and 63-page pdf introducing my foray into floral and community phenology. Try ‘seasonal repeat photography‘ on your walks this spring. Pick your favorite plant, or landscape, and start rephotographing.
Yet another winter project has been to finally pdf and better organize all 30 issues of our newsletter Discoveries. Check out the summary page where you’ll now find them listed chronologically. The very first feature article, in 1995, was by Kathy Hocker, titled Is it spring yet?
Be safe, Discoverers, and get out there.
Okay, so how about those swans?