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.

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.

A naturalist contemplates hunting

By Lawrence J. Winship For the Gazette

Some months back I talked with a friend about the challenges of growing vegetables in the Pioneer Valley and ways to deal with deer and woodchucks. Despite all attempts at fencing and repellent, entire sections of her garden were destroyed — just too many hungry mouths, leaving little for her family.

Published in Earth Matters on September 22, 2017.

Talking about climate change: What Buddhist teachings offer

By Mark D. Hart For the Gazette

I wince a little when I recall an email exchange with an old college friend. He responded to my annual Christmas letter, where I had revealed my political involvement against climate change. It turns out he is a “climate skeptic” and has written articles for conservative journals.

Published in Earth Matters on September 8, 2017.

Marveling at the wondrous power of seeds

By Elizabeth Farnsworth

Seeds are the beginning of life for so many of the plants that give humanity life: the oxygen we breathe, the food we eat, the medicines that save us from disease. I am awed by all of nature, but nothing speaks to me of the miraculous so much as a seed.

Published in Earth Matters on August 25, 2017.

‘What is a bird?’ Easy question, complicated answer

By Henry Lappen

When I do my educational performance “A Passion for Birds,” I always ask the audience “What is a bird?” Depending on the age of the audience, I get quite a variety of answers. Someone usually starts with “It’s a flying animal.” I respond by pointing out, “Under that definition, bees and bats are birds.”

Published in Earth Matters on August 14, 2017.

What Thoreau can tell us about climate change

By Patrick O’Roark

Recently, Ted Watt, my colleague at the Hitchcock Center for the Environment in Amherst, said something that really stuck with me: Naturalists, the experts on the plants and animals sharing the land with us, are important figures in the struggle to curb and adapt to climate change.

Published in Earth Matters on July 28, 2017.

A ripple effect: Henry David Thoreau turns 200

By Reeve Gutsell

July 12 marked the bicentennial of Henry David Thoreau’s birth. Though not widely read in his day, this essayist, abolitionist, naturalist, tax resister, land surveyor and native son of Massachusetts is now well known throughout America and the rest of the world for his influence on both modern-day environmentalism and civil resistance movements.

Published in Earth Matters on July 14, 2017.

Creating a new normal in a ‘living’ building

By Katie Koerten

As an environmental educator at the Hitchcock Center for the Environment, I do most of my work outside. Until our recent move to our new “living” building I didn’t consider that our nature center itself could help me teach about the environment as well.

Published in Earth Matters on June 30, 2017.

How birds and other organisms can tell us where we are

By David Spector

The ways birds use the sun, the stars, their own internal clocks, the Earth’s magnetic field, odors, and other cues to navigate are well documented. Birds can also help a human to know his or her location.

Published in Earth Matters on June 19, 2017.

‘Tikkun olam’: An ancient expression for our time

By Benjamin Weiner

At Ellis Island, years ago, I was struck by an exhibit listing some of the contributions made by immigrant languages to American English, though I realize now that at least two important Jewish offerings went unrecorded. The more colorful of my ancestors’ Yiddishisms were probably deemed unfit for inclusion in a family museum. But the other gift I’m thinking of, Hebraic, has more dignity and has more recently entered fully into the specialized vernacular of social activism.

Published in Earth Matters on June 2, 2017.
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