Seeing lost, injured or orphaned animals is heartbreaking, but unless a wild animal is in immediate danger from prey or traffic, it’s best to wait and observe. Mothers forage for food and return to the babies intermittently. If in doubt, call a wildlife rehabber for advice.
Whatever our location, age or fitness level, a hike can provide opportunities for calming solitude or connecting with people we care about. Individuals with disabilities can also get outdoors at accommodating trails such as those at Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge, in Delaware. There’s always something to be learned in identifying wildlife and plants.
Whether on a one- or two-week vacation or a weekend away, a daytrip or backyard activity, there are plenty of nurturing outdoor options for kids of all ages to experience when the weather heats up.
Researchers from the University of Rhode Island, in Kingston, have studied the rapid increase in Lyme disease in the northern U.S. Only 11 cases of the disease, which annually impacts about 300,000 Americans, were reported in 2015 in Alabama, a state of approximately 5 million residents. Meanwhile, there were 491 confirmed cases in Vermont, with a population of less than 700,000.
Seed libraries and banks are critically important because the seeds are adapted to the local environment. Seed libraries have multiplied from only a handful a few years ago to as many as 300 located in towns across America today. Public libraries check out seeds to plant in your garden, asking only that you return harvested seeds for others to enjoy. Farmers can now “back up” their seeds in local seed banks, which are also becoming important educational resources to teach students about these issues.
To this day, my spiritual life is found inside the heart of the wild. I do not fear it, I court it. When I am away, I anticipate my return, needing to touch stone, rock, water, the trunks of trees, the sway of grasses, the barbs of a feather, the fur left behind by a shedding bison.
In the Ivory Coast, where I recently visited, many poor rural people grow cocoa. One way to expand its economy is to produce more cocoa at the expense of tropical rain forests, which ultimately destroys the economy because forests are a major source of rainfall. Extended droughts caused by deforestation reveal that kind of growth is self-defeating. We need a more sophisticated approach, with the economy becoming a wholly owned subsidiary of ecology, not the other way around.
For instance, replacing Kentucky bluegrass, Bermuda grass or another non-native species with natives can deliver drought resistance and lower irrigation needs; eliminate any need for fertilizers or toxic pesticides; reduce or eliminate labor-intensive and often polluting mowing and edging; enhance the beauty of a home; and attract birds, butterflies and other wildlife.
From learning to communicate to physically caring for each other, the secret lives of trees are wildly deep and complex.
“They can count, learn and remember; nurse sick neighbors; warn each other of danger by sending electrical signals across a fungal network known as the ‘wood wide web’; and keep the ancient stumps of long-felled companions alive for centuries by feeding them a sugar solution through their roots,” reveals Peter Wohlleben, a German forest ranger and author of The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate—Discoveries from a Secret World, released in September.
When encountering a bird or animal that appears to be abandoned, take only minimal steps to help. “People mean well but a lot of rescues we see, didn’t need help,” says Lacy Campbell, wildlife care center operations manager for the Audubon Society of Portland, Oregon. Make sure the animal is away from traffic or predators, and then call a local wildlife rehabilitator before taking further action, especially if the animal is injured.