Earth Matters

Every two weeks, the Hitchcock Center publishes a column, "Earth Matters: Notes on the Nature of the Valley," in The Daily Hampshire Gazette. Writers include Hitchcock staff and board members, former board members, presenters in our Community Programs series, and friends of the Center. Look for the column at the end of Section C of the weekend Gazette or on their website. We will keep a complete list on this site, so if you miss seeing a column in the newspaper, or want to see it again, come here at any time.

Kids learn inventiveness by inventing

By Katie Koerten

Recently I’ve been doing engineering and design workshops with third-graders. At the Hitchcock Center for the Environment, w e’re known for our educational programs about nature and sustainability. But all of us Hitchcock Center educators are also doing programs on engineering and design; it is curriculum that fosters confident, innovative thinking — crucial to tackling the problems facing the natural world.

Published in Earth Matters on February 9, 2018.

Hurricane Irene: It wasn’t the wind, it was the water

By Christine Hatch For the Gazette

“What are you going to do about the wall of water coming down the river?” The call still rings in the ears of Deerfield Select Board Chair Carolyn Ness. The sun was already shining, the storm had passed, people were out in kayaks — and yet a 30-foot-high wall of water, the accumulation of rain from all of the upstream watersheds, was on its way downriver.

Published in Earth Matters on January 26, 2018.

Red crossbills, an enigma of variations

By David Spector For the Gazette January 13, 2018 An evolutionary conundrum may soon appear in your nearest stand of spruce trees. This winter, red crossbills, among the most puzzling birds in North America, are moving south and east of their usual haunts. As it does every few years, this species is likely to appear, […]

Published in Earth Matters on January 13, 2018.

Thick is the new thin: Keeping ourselves warm outdoors in winter

By Ted Watt For the Gazette

How do I, as a naturalist spending a lot of time outdoors year-round, keep warm on cold winter days? I take some cues from animals that stay active in the fields and forests around us.

Published in Earth Matters on December 29, 2017.

How do animals live through our winters?

By Ted Watt For the Gazette

Each year as autumn advances I find myself amazed anew by the ongoing cycle of life in the face of approaching sub-freezing temperatures. Water, the facilitator of life processes, freezes solid and life-giving processes cease. Dormancy, hibernation, migration — there are so many strategies by which life manages this potential catastrophe.

Published in Earth Matters on December 15, 2017.

The case of the songless songbird: Cedar waxwings

By David Spector

Now is a good time to get outside to look for cedar waxwings, a striking songbird with an interesting story. Indeed, any time is a good time, as they are here year-round and always interesting, both for what they do and for what they don’t do.

Published in Earth Matters on December 1, 2017.

When do we find our place in the landscape?

by John Stinton for the Gazette

I recently went cycling with a friend who told me that he’d had a wondrously strange experience — the world around him suddenly became intensely bright and immediate to his senses. How could that be, he asked? After 70 years of living, what had he been missing?

Published in Earth Matters on November 17, 2017.

In memoriam, Elizabeth Farnsworth, writer, illustrator, scientist, naturalist

By Michael Dover For the Gazette

Elizabeth Farnsworth died suddenly at the end of October. I’m certain that anyone who has read even one or two of her many Earth Matters columns shares my sadness of this momentous loss.

Published in Earth Matters on November 3, 2017.

How seeds survive the winter

By Elizabeth Farnsworth For the Gazette

In an “Earth Matters” column this August, I marveled at the myriad methods by which seeds get around. Imagine you’re a seed that has traveled far and landed in a happy place, rich in soil and free of other competing plants. Now you face a new challenge as the days shorten and the weather gets colder. How will you survive the winter?

Published in Earth Matters on October 20, 2017.

Giants among us (silkworm moths, that is)

By Joshua Rose For the Gazette

Being a naturalist means regularly receiving messages asking “What is this thing?”

I received one on June 1 from a fellow Hampshire Bird Club member. Her husband was doing tree work on a town common, and photographed a huge moth nearby. I recognized it as a polyphemus moth (Antheraea polyphemus), a member of the family Saturniidae, the giant silkworm moths.

Published in Earth Matters on October 6, 2017.
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