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Each year Columbia Association engages me to lead free, public walks on parts of the 95 miles of nature trails that they maintain. People come to:
- get outside,
- explore areas they have not visited before
- learn more about the past, present and future of these wonderful open spaces, and
- have fun with others as we walk thru the woods and around the lakes.
Each year I try to add something new to my descriptions of the places we pass. This might be about some old foundations , vine covered graveyards, and historic structures. It could be more about the invasive plants and the native plants that we will encounter. We will certainly try to scare up some sitings of rare and common birds, plants, mammals, and insects. We always see something new, something fun to see and discuss.
On these walks, we often discuss best management practices and CA policies on maintaining the 3000 acres of open space in their care. We discuss how residents can help manage the wonderful natural resources in this area. And of course we talk about the plans for the future of Columbia and how our town is evolving.
This year I am going to lead 5 of the walks and Barbara Kellner will lead 4 of them. Her walks will focus more on the art and architecture of Columbia. Mine will be more about the nature we encounter and the past and future of Columbia. All walks will begin at 10 am on Thursdays. CA has invested in a new voice amplifier to make sure everyone can hear our insights, asides, and stories about this intriguing place many of us call home.
Hope to see you all on the trails.
Ned Tillman is an Earth and Environmental scientist and an award winning author of three books. He has served as the chair of the Howard County Conservancy, The HoCo Sustainability Board, and the HoCo General Plan Task Force. He is also a member of the Horizon Foundation and the Maryland Academy of Science. His books: The Chesapeake Watershed, Saving the Places we Love, and The Big Melt can be obtained from Amazon.
The Big Melt was a finalist for the Green Earth Award this year! It was also a finalist for the One Maryland/One Book selection. We are pretty pleased to be ranked so high in these competitions which considered hundreds of books in the process. It’s a completely independent and objective evaluation of the value of the book to readers.
I am also pleased that so many people are reading The Big Melt and to see schools across the country using it to help students visualize how the future might unfold.
I hear that it helps them better plan for the future and stimulates them to take action now.
Thanks again for everyone’s support. I am still on a speaking tour, so let me know of groups who might be interested in hosting a presentation.
Did a lunchtime walk with friends, Alan and Laurie, today and noticed all sorts of things happening. Do any of you know what these photos are capturing? I found gooey green slimes in a vernal pond, Figure 1.
Scroll down for other images. Keep scrolling for my interpretations of these items. Please give me any feedback you have.
Then there are orange seeps in some of the creeks, Fig 2.
Then there are the arrays of red spears protecting the pistachio green pillows on granitic gneiss adjacent to Lake Elkhorn, Figure 3.
Answers: see below:
- Sure looks like frog eggs to me. Can you guess the species?
- Insoluble ferric oxides from orange iron reducing bacteria.
- Moss sending up sporophytes which will release pollen shortly.
Ned is the author of The Chesapeake Watershed, Saving the Places we Love, and The Big Melt.
Tomorrow is the first day of Spring. The bright sunshine and brisk air draw me out of my cave for a walk around Lake Elkhorn here in central Maryland. No kids, and no companion with me today except for the life along the trail. I take many long breaths of the cool air full of essential oils from the trees and soils, trying to rebuild my immune system from the rigors of a book tour.
The crows escorted me all around the lake. I usually don’t notice them, but today they are busy. A couple of red-shoulder hawks call to me from the trees and a couple of buzzards are cleaning up debris at the edge of the forest.
The magic of the day comes from taking a close look at all the brilliant mosses, yellow and green, and surrounded by sporophytes – ready to release their pollen into the gentle breeze. Buds are everywhere on the trees and I enjoy the blooms of the snowdrops and daffodils that have spread out into the buffer along the water’s edge. I notice that the invasive lesser celadine ground cover starting to bloom as well.
There is only a single pair of Canada geese left on the lake and a few scattered ducks (ring-necks, buffleheads, and hooded mergansers). Quite a change from the dozens of waterfowl we had just a few short weeks ago.
Only a few people are out today. I’m hoping that everyone will take the time to walk their favorite trails and once again fall in love with nature. It’s all about taking care of the places we love and we have a long way to go to learn how to live in balance with this amazing and probably unique eco-system, this climate, that we call home.
Ned is the author of The Big Melt.
On the political side of things, I have been donating copies of The Big Melt into legislator hands for their nightly bedtime reading. There are a group of very important bills on the state level that should be viewed and voted on through a climate lens. If you want copies to hand deliver to your representatives, let me know.
I also got a wonderful and very thoughtful review this week on Amazon. I thought I would share it with you.
Imagining the future so we can survive and improve it – by Connie L
We have reached a point in our history where there is no version of the future that does not include climate change. This is a reality that we are accepting less gracefully and far less quickly than one might wish, but here it is.
One of the challenges of facing climate change has always been how big and abstract it is. Scientific reports can only get us part of the way to crafting a human response to our changing world. Ned Tillman’s The Big Melt is part of a growing body of speculative fiction that helps us more fully imagine living in a world of climate change.
James Holland Jones, an associate professor for Earth System Science and Senior Fellow at the Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford University, sees a critical role for storytelling in understanding the complexities of adapting to and mitigating climate change, and he says that books like The Big Melt can help us see “how people work, how they fight back, how they engage in [the] prosaic heroism of adapting to a changed world. This is powerful. It gives us hope for a better future.”
The Big Melt does all of this while sharing both the seriousness of the challenges we face and the hope of what people can accomplish when we work together towards a better future. I love how capable and smart the book’s young protagonists are, and I recommend this book whole-heartedly.
We got the text at 9:30 this morning – Tundra Swans on Lake Elkhorn! Kathy and I got our boots and coats on and went down the snow covered paths to the lake. There was about 2 inches of snow on the ground that had fallen during the night and it must have been enough to persuade the migrating swans to settle for the night. We watched them for a while. They went back and forth out in the middle of the lake, there were 20 of them in this flock. At one point we tried to discern their quiet conversation. It slowly increased in volume up to the point of quite an enthusiastic rally and then all of a sudden half of the swans took off followed by the other half. Their long wings slapping the water’s surface, helping to lift their bodies out of the lake. They took off to the East into the wind, rising their white bodies up through and above the gray and green winter forest. Moments later we heard them again as they doubled back, high over the lake heading west-northwest. And they were gone. What a sight. What a way to start the day.