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.

Pollen: A great leap for plants gets its hooks in people, too

By Lawrence J. Winship

Every spring our car windows, decks and sidewalks are blanketed by layer upon layer of yellow powder. A seemingly unending rain of tiny particles filters down from birches, oaks, pines and other trees, sticking to every horizontal surface — and making about 25% of the human population sneeze. Lawrence J. Winship explains what wind-dispersed pollen does for plants and to people- and ends his tale with very curious questions.

Published in Earth Matters on July 8, 2022.

The Names Behind the Plants

By David Spector

I enjoy plants — foliage, flowers, and relationships of plants with humans, relationships often reflected in names. English plant names, for example, show a complex history of invasions into England, invasions by the English into the rest of the world, and interaction with dozens of languages from around the world. Here I consider a handful of western Massachusetts plant names.

Published in Earth Matters on June 24, 2022.

Walrus on thin ice: A challenge for them and an opportunity to help

By Tom Litwin

What weighs 1.5 tons, is 12 feet long, has enlarged canine teeth that can grow to over 36 inches and is featured in a Beatles song? If you guessed walrus, you’re correct. Here in Massachusetts, we tend not to think much about walrus, but there’s an opportunity for you to virtually travel to the Arctic in search of walrus. Here’s some background…

Published in Earth Matters on June 10, 2022.

Shed a little light on your local stream

By Christine Hatch

During the past couple of weeks I’ve been thinking about emergence. This is the time of year, as spring starts, that green is exploding out of every pore in the landscape. After winter, when so much is buried underground, the sudden flourish when sunlight reaches us is always a welcome shock…

Published in Earth Matters on May 27, 2022.

Farms for the community, by the community

By Kari Blood

Agriculture is at the heart of our region’s health and food security. Yet New England is losing about 1,500 acres of farmland every year. With more farmers aging out of the business, and many of their children choosing other occupations, it’s vital to keep our local land in farming. Conserving those lands as farms is one important tool for that, as nonprofit land trusts, alongside public agencies, work with farmland owners who choose to protect their land.

Published in Earth Matters on May 14, 2022.

Cracking the mystery of how birds’ eggs are blue

By Katie Koerten

Last November I wrote an article for this column about the color blue in nature: how rare it is, and how difficult it is for nature to even produce it. To my delight, it garnered a lot of interest and curiosity, and even a letter to the editor with a story about why robins’ eggs are blue. I thought this a dazzling — and timely! — example of blue in nature to write about in springtime.

Published in Earth Matters on April 29, 2022.

What’s in a name? Change may be the only constant

By Joshua Rose For the Gazette April 15, 2022 If you’re a naturalist, your friends, neighbors and relatives often send you photos asking, “What is this?” If you recognize it, […]

Published in Earth Matters on April 15, 2022.

An eel’s journey: Part 2: A troubled present day

By John Sinton for the Gazette For the Gazette Editor’s note: This is the second of a two-part essay about American eels; the first was published on Saturday, March 19. […]

Published in Earth Matters on April 1, 2022.

An eel’s journey: Part 1: The year 1600

By John Sinton for the Gazette For the Gazette Editor’s note: This is the first of two parts exploring the migration of American eels. Part 2 will run Saturday, April […]

Published in Earth Matters on March 18, 2022.

What does it mean for a species to be rare?

By Lawrence J. Winship For the Gazette March 4, 2022 Yellow lady slipper orchids along Highway 6 on the Bruce Peninsula in Ontario. CONTRIBUTED/Lawrence J. Winship Several summers ago, my […]

Published in Earth Matters on March 4, 2022.
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