Take a Hike @ Mary Beth Doyle Nature Area

Mary Beth Doyle dedicationMary Beth Doyle dedication

Thursday, April 21 | 7:00-8:30 PM | Mary Beth Doyle Park | All Ages

Join us on a walk on the unpaved trail that meanders along Malletts Creek and through woods and wetlands of this 81.4-acre park. William Kirst, a naturalist from Natural Area Preservation (City of Ann Arbor) will discuss native plants and trees, invasive plants, ecological restoration, volunteer activities in Ann Arbor Parks, and much more.

The walk will start at the park entrance at Packard Rd. (just east of Cobblestone Farm on the south side of the road). Parking at the entrance is limited; additional parking is available at the Malletts Creek Branch (3090 E. Eisenhower) with a half-mile walk east along Eisenhower and Packard to the park entrance.

Keeping Bees in Your Own Backyard

Bees

Did you know that the Ann Arbor city code (search for apiary) allows for two hives of bees on every city lot? Keeping bees is not everyone’s idea of fun, but it is remarkably easy and, if you are inclined, there is abundant support for learning how to enhance the diversity of your backyard habitat. Now is the perfect time to get started.

The best book I know for learning the craft of beekeeping is Ross Conrad’s Natural Beekeeping. We own other books and dvds on the subject too, but Conrad keeps to a plan of organic care for his bee colonies, which keeps stress on the hive to a minumum.

SEMBA is the resource you need if you are actually trying to start hives. Lots of educational opportunites and comaradarie with fellow beekeepers. For supplies and lots of other information there are, of course, excellent sites online, here and here and here.

The documentary film Queen of the Sun is an amazing tour de force about our relationship to bees and explores the question, “What are bees trying to tell us when colonies collapse and bees disappear?” It is still touring select theaters and I am hoping it makes its way to Ann Arbor soon! Watch for it.

Finally, the wisest beekeeper around, Gunther Hauk, has a very special and inspiring message for working with bees and has started a “honeybee sanctuary” in southeastern Virginia called Spikenard Farm. Even if you don’t plan to keep your own hives, there is much to learn here.

Magazine Update -- Giraffes, Plays and Magical Neurology

by stevendepolo, Flickr.comby stevendepolo, Flickr.com

You may have noticed that Ann Arbor is steadily sinking into the ground. Shocking news! But as you await the inevitable plunge towards the center of the Earth, at least you can read these cool new magazines.

For the kids:
Zootles is all about Giraffes, the tallest animals on Earth!

Plays Magazine gives you seven all new scripts for aspiring thespians, including "The Adventure of the Norwood Builder" inspired by the classic Sherlock Holmes story!

Dig magazine digs into the Aztecs (get it?), and Muse magazine tells you about the weird brain glitches that make magic tricks work.

For the parents:
American Baby is ready to tell you all about decoding your baby's mood signals, dealing with kid-caused embarrassment, and going on baby-friendly vacations.

Have fun!

Restoring Ann Arbor's Natural Areas with NAP

Bird Hills trail verticalBird Hills trail vertical

Did you know that the City of Ann Arbor has over 1400 acres of dedicated natural areas? Our urban forests, prairies and wetlands provide shelter, food and water for a vast number of unique plant and animal species, help clean our city's air, and filter rain water that enters the Huron River.

William Kirst, a naturalist for Natural Area Preservation (NAP), will walk us through the seasons of Ann Arbor's natural wonders, all from the comfort of the Traverwood Branch! William's lecture and slideshow will show us familiar sites; we'll learn about native plants, their fundamental importance in nature, and get some ideas on what nature even is and how we are key in the workings of nature.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011: 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm --- Traverwood Branch Library: Program Room --Grade 6-Adult

Magazine Update -- Lil Wayne, Edible Bugs, and Books about Sports

image by kevinzim, Flickr.comimage by kevinzim, Flickr.com
This month's magazines will stun and amaze you! Take a look...

For the young 'uns:
Creative Kids -- Featuring an interview with Katherine Paterson, author of Bridge to Terabithia!
Dig Magazine -- When is a hole in your head a good thing?
Ranger Rick -- Do you know that dolphins live in the Amazon River? And that people all over the world eat bugs? It's a strange world out there...

For the teens:
ESPN Magazine -- What's it like to be Jadeveon Clowney, who has been called the nation's number one high school football player? Read to find out!
Rolling Stone -- the Global Warming Hall of Shame and what Lil Wayne is up to these days.

For the parents:
American Baby -- baby traditions from all over the world, and a guide to scary symptoms that are really no big deal.
Horn Book -- What is 'YA Fatphobia'? Plus the favorite picture books of 2010, and a guide to good sports books for kids.
The Old Schoolhouse -- Tips for teaching technology, foreign language and writing skills at home.

I don't know about you, but I think these magazines sound fascinating. Especially that 'hole in the head' one. I'm already stunned and amazed!

Young Naturalist Awards

Calling all Young Scientists!

Are you curious about nature and life science? Have you ever wanted to conduct experiments and research, just like the grown-up scientists?? Well then the Young Naturalist Awards might be right up your alley!

The Young Naturalist Awards is an annual contest put on by the American Museum of Natural History that encourages young scientists ages 7 to 12 to explore a question they have about natural science, make observations and report their findings on what they discovered. It is an essay contest that is designed like a real scientific study, focusing on the fields of Biology, Ecology, Earth Science and/ or Astronomy.

The deadline for the contest is March 1, 2011. There will be twelve winners selected for the contest, two from each grade. The winners are awarded cash prizes and an expense paid trip to the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, the same museum featured in the movie Night at the Museum! They will meet with Museum scientists, take behind-the-scenes tours, and will be honored at an awards ceremony. Their essays will be published on the Museum’s Web site and excerpted in Natural History magazine.

The Ann Arbor District Library has many resources for any Young Scientists looking to enter the contest, including books on studying nature and exploring space and astronomy. We also have the Access Science database available to library patrons, which includes articles, biographies, definitions, images, and more from the online version of the McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science and Technology. The Stapp Nature Area is a great place to observe nature and it is adjacent to our Traverwood Branch.

For more information about the Young Naturalist Awards, including Rules & Regulations, How to Get Started and much more, please visit their Website.

A Documentary... With John Cusack and Termites!

The Besieged Fortress is a close up look at life inside a termite colony. If you’re a fan of the Discovery Channel and animal documentaries, you may like this. The film features fabulous macro photography and camera angles deep inside a colony of termites. Being up close you see the rank divisions among the members, working below the king and queen. Their colony is threatened by fire, rain and other animals and insects, namely driver ants, thus battle ensues. It is quite dramatic and amazing to witness.

This documentary is an interesting look into the complex lives of an underrated insect species. The film is narrated by John Cusack (which is reason enough to check out), and there is plenty of dramatic music to fill you with suspense until a moment arises that deserves a self-narrated quip or two a la Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Sculpture and Poetry in Nature

TransformationsTransformationsOaken Transformations, an innovative integration of "art and poetry in a natural environment to promote community, support of the arts, and preservation of wilderness places," hosts its grand opening on Sunday, October 17, 1:00-4:00. Oaken Transformations was borne of Dr. Fred Bonine’s experience of the transformative and healing qualities of art and nature. Dr. Bonine invites the public to share in this experience by walking the .4 mile nature trail behind his office, throughout which are installed original sculptures and poetry from local and nationally-renowned artists and poets including John Sauve, Kate Silvio, Janet Kauffman, and Robert Fanning. This free exhibit will run for one year in Brighton, at 6893 Grand River Road, Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., but will be closed for holidays.

A Conservationist Manifesto

A Conservationist Manifesto

Point 1 - The work of conservation is inspired by wonder, gratitude, reason, and love. We need all of these emotions and faculties to do the work well. But the first impulse is love – love for wild and settled places, for animals and plants, for people living now and those yet to come, for the creations of human hands and minds.

Scott Russell Sanders has not been a professor of English at Indiana University for the last 40 years for nothing. The man can write. He has mastered the art of the personal essay and won awards for his, as he should. I found myself all through this marvelous book rereading paragraphs more than once, to savor the language, the turn of a phrase, the expressive beauty and style of the message. I thought of copying passages so many times I realized I would have a quarter of the book written out for a keepsake. I decided to just buy the book, so I can dip in at will.

A Conservationist Manifesto tells how and why (but more why) we must turn from consuming to conserving in order to redress the imbalances we have wrought on the planet. It explores our enduring relationship with Earth’s bounty and beauty and the necessity of choosing a place to stay put in; a home community in which to invest one’s care and attention. Sanders tells numerous stories about his adopted home in southern Indiana. I was especially happy to read about the restoration of the Limberlost, which was once a 13,000 acre wetlands immortalized by Gene Stratton-Porter in The Girl of the Limberlost and other books. Until recently the Limberlost was gone, but careful efforts are bringing back a small section of it, renamed Loblolly Marsh.

Read this book for the urgency of the 40-point manifesto, calling for more attention and justice in our relationship to the Earth and its creatures, and for the change and commitment it will inspire. Read it also for the beauty of the telling.

Point 40 - Conservation arises from the perennial human desire to dwell in harmony with our neighbors – those that creep and fly, those that swim and soar, those that sway on roots, as well as those that walk about on two legs. We seek to make a good and lasting home. We strive for a way of life that our descendants will look back on with gratitude, a way of life that is worthy of our magnificant planet.

Bird Hills and Kuebler Langford Nature Areas

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Bird Hills Nature Area is the 161-acre wooded haven for some of the most beautiful hiking trails in Ann Arbor. It is also a well loved sanctuary for myriad creatures and plants, and it's only a mile north of the downtown area. This place is spectacular in the fall. Dozens of fellow runners and hikers explore these trails every day, though they might not know about the smaller but equally varied terrain of Kuebler Langford Park, which borders Bird Hills to the east of the Beechwood Drive entrance.

Kuebler Langford Nature Area is marked by a creek-cut ravine that runs down the middle of the park, with trails heading up either side. The trails are hard packed dirt with a few picnic areas along the way where cleared out woods make for magical little harbors. On the M-14 side of the park, the soil changes to loose sand and prairie-like vegetation, which provides a wholly different experience just a few hundred feet from the woods. You'll find plenty of hills on your hike, though none too steep to climb with an ordinary pair of running shoes or hiking boots. Enjoy!

Discover some of the other outdoor gems in Ann Arbor by checking out Riverwalks Ann Arbor, Along the Huron, or Footloose in Washtenaw, or see our Events page for the Take A Hike! events through the AADL.

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