Early May and Migration

It’s May, although if one used the weather as a marker it would still be early April. Today is gray and chill, cold enough the furnace came on. Flowering plants of all types are in full regalia and the annual bird migration, while aa bit delayed, is in full swing. I have finally heard warblers! In the bay other species are migrating, above and below the waves, although I know less about them and their journeys. I do know that like human migrations, all of these journeys are filled with danger.

It’s been wet and windy, although a couple of days ago we had a pleasant day with a brisk breeze off the water; we live on a peninsula so the breeze is usually off the waiter.. We took advantage and explored a portion of a small wildlife refuge near our home. We drive by the opening to the reserve several times a week but as it looks quite small, we have never walked there.

To our surprise the reserve is quite lovely, and much larger than it looks. It consists of a strip about 200 yards wide that parallels a stream. Given all the rain we had early in the week. the stream was running high and galivanting over several trills. A new bridge now crosses the stream, and although it requires climbing steeps up and down, we look forward to exploring the far side on which the trail seems a good deal longer.

Most of the local reserves are not disability friendly, and truth be told, having to negotiate sixteen steps, then walking some distance, might take most of my resources for the day. There are other barriers to easy access on the trails as well. The conundrum for planners, I imagine, is accessible trails encourage dirt bikers and invite massive ecosystem destruction. There must be design options that allow accessibility and discourage dirt bikers but they are not in use here.

Speaking of accessibility, a couple of evenings back I listened to a BBC Radio 3 panel discussion about displacement, migration, and climate change. One speaker pointed out that migration has always been an aspect of human experience (she referenced the land bridge from Asia to North America, a theory now largely discredited), even as it becomes more the norm as entire regions are displaced by climate change. She then went on to talk about colonialism as migration, and noting that even as we lose some lands to climate change, other, previously largely uninhabitable spaces open up, suggested we colonize the newly created spaces. (It is noteworthy to acknowledge that we term the movement of plants and animals into newly accessible terrain, “colonizing”.)

She became increasingly excited as she explicated the idea that the newly highly habitable regions, notable norther Canada and Greenland, be used as refuges for climate change displaced peoples. I was shocked (I probably should not have been) that she not once mentioned the resulting displacement of local Indigenous people, to say nothing of severely stressed wildlife and plants. She was, after all, seemingly praising the merits of colonialism and by implication, displacement in the service of resource development.. Now I can’t decide whether to be enraged, saddened, or, more likely, both.

We’ve been out in the gardens and yard, noting the state of things. Most of the trees and shrubs we planted last summer seem to have survived the drought (we live in traditionally soggy southern New England where the new norm appears to be severe drought every three years) but the winterberry was girdled by the deer over the winter and all of the shrub above ground level is likely dead. Still, the plant is spunky enough, in spite of drought stress, to be casting up new stems from the roots and we are hopeful we will be able to protect it and nurture it going forward.

This seems like a hopeful place to end. Given the state of the world, hope needs our protection and nurturing as well, so let’s stop here. See you soon.

PS: The photo in this post was taken at one of our favorite tidal marshes about a week ago. I’ll try to put up some images from our walk in the reserve soon.

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