From the Center

There’s a barn by a river, and tree swallows in the sky. They could be a flock en route from Quebec, or maybe just tardy locals, fattening up on insects that were displaced by the farmer’s third cutting. Forest covers the hills and crowds the water. It would overtake the field, too, if the farmer stepped away for a while.

Artist Adelaide Tyrol created the cover image for our new The Outside Story book, and I’m gratified by the way she expressed in paint what the essay series evokes with words: the wonder of common nature, seasonal change, and the continuing conversation between people and the land.

In this second volume, there are 72 essays by 39 different authors, as well as an appendix of fun outdoor learning activities, monthly nature calendars, and numerous illustrations. We aimed to highlight common species and natural phenomena that you’re likely to observe in the forests and fields around your home.

Nature has so many surprises. Spittlebugs that accelerate so quickly they experience a force equivalent to 400 times that of gravity. Venom-resistant opossums. Hibernating turtles that breathe out of their... Modesty deters me from completing this description, so you’ll just have to look it up in the book. In the meantime, I’ll summarize my five-year-old daughter Lucy’s reaction: (1) “Wow.” (2) “Yuck.” (3) “Mommy, are you making stuff up again?”

In my spring column, I mentioned the remarkable legacy of naturalist and philanthropist Marguerite Wellborn. It’s worth repeating that The Outside Story would never have happened if not for the generous support of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation’s Wellborn Ecology Fund, which has underwritten the weekly essay series for 15 years and both editions of the book. On October 15, we’ll be celebrating that legacy – and the book’s official launch – at the Vermont Institute of Natural Science (VINS) Nature Center.

And while I’m promoting events, please be sure to check out the schedule for the 2016 Northern Woodlands Conference, scheduled for the weekend of September 30–October 2, and sponsored by The Bailey Charitable Foundation and The Trust for Public Land. Writers who are interested in working on their craft or networking, teachers looking to expand their knowledge of the outdoors, and really anyone with a keen interest in forests and natural history, will find this to be a fun and enriching weekend. A full schedule and speaker biographies are on our website. Take a look, and we hope to see you there.


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