Thursday, June 12, 2008

Becoming Familiar with My Local Ecosystem

My third grader studied ecosystems this year. While studying with him, I re-learned a lot of science terms that I probably haven't heard since my own grammar school days. I haven't had much of a use for that particular vocabulary throughout my life.

But that's changing. As I've been making strides over the past two years to improve the environment, I've actually become interested in knowing more about the physical world around me.

I've just finished reading
Affluenza (yes, I know - it took me a long time - book review to come soon), and towards the end of the book there is a quiz about how well you know the world right around you. Here are a few of the questions:

  • Name five resident and any migratory birds in your area.
  • What animal species have become extinct in your area?
  • What spring wildflower is consistently among the first to bloom where you live?
  • What kind of rocks and minerals are found in your bioregion?
  • What is the largest wilderness area in your bioregion?

Okay, if this were a school quiz, I would have failed miserably. I can name a few birds (robins, bluejays, cardinals) in my backyard. Migratory? Does that mean the Canadian Geese that fly over in the fall?

I don't know any extinct animal species in my area, but I bet there are some.

Wildflowers? Are crocus wild? I've never planted them, but they pop up before everything else in the spring.

Rocks, minerals, wilderness - clueless. And honestly. I'm not even sure what my bioregion is. Excuse me while I go look that up.

Okay, I'm back. Here's the definition of bioregion:

A territory defined by a combination of biological, social, and geographic criteria, rather than geopolitical considerations; generally, a system of related, interconnected ecosystems.

Still not sure exactly what my personal bioregion is, but I'm pretty sure my backyard is part of it. And those questions from Affluenza, I can't answer most of them about my own backyard.

I've been waking up early recently and heading out to the picnic table with my journal, books and my coffee. I've been writing down the things I see, hear, and smell (natural and unnatural). My husband asked me why it's important that I start to learn about these things. Does knowing about them really make any difference in what I'm trying to do. Can't I go green without knowing what kind of birds and flowers are native to my backyard.

I suppose I can, but I don't want to anymore. I want to understand the world whose health I'm trying to improve. I'm constantly amazed at what this journey get me interested in next.

What are you interested in now that you would have never gained an interest in if you hadn't started to go green?

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Allison said...

That is why you are my most read blog. You write about the animals, your kids, the earth and small things like the sounds in your backyard. 99% of the time I read your entries and think "I feel that way too!"
I couldn't answer those questions about my region. I do know what is endangered-salmon and beavers in my creek, coyotes that run the fields- but that is all I know. Want to kow what is more pathetic? I know so much more than most people and I bet you do too because we care.

Robin Shreeves said...

Glad you like the blog so much. It helps to know that others are having the same struggles that you have and not giving up, doesn't it?