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Connect with Nature: 5 Easy End-of-Summer Activities
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Connect with Nature: 5 Easy End-of-Summer Activities

[caption id="attachment_22916" align="alignleft" width="150"]Image of Samantha Nurse Samantha Nurse, Web and Social Media Coordinator[/caption] Summer may be starting to wind down, but before we all head back to school and work, take a few minutes to connect with nature. Here are some of our top choices for some end-of-summer outdoor activities: 1. Get in one last camping trip. Pack up and head out for a day or a weekend surrounded by nature. Check out these five tips to be a nature-friendly camper! 2. Explore your city by bike. Get two wheels on the road and tour your town on a family bike outing. Ride familiar routes or discover a new favourite trail.Image of a man biking on a path 3. Go on a nature scavenger hunt. There is so much to explore right in your own backyard! Put a new spin on your familiar surroundings by turning each nature experience into a challenge that can be checked off your list. 4. Stay up late stargazing. Evenings are still fairly warm, but the sun sets just a bit earlier these days, providing ample time to explore the night skies. Lie in the grass and watch the stars dance through the dark. 5. Throw a nature tea party. Pack up some healthy snacks, juice or tea and your best picnic blanket to have an afternoon treat in the outdoors. Enjoy the decorations and soundtrack provided by Mother Nature. What are you doing to celebrate nature as summer winds down? Let us know in the comments or on Facebook or Twitter!

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The Insects of Summer
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The Insects of Summer

This blog post is a continuation of Summer Nature Notes, touching on the other aspect of summer – insects. It was written by Nature Canada member Steve Gahbauer and edited by Sam Nurse. There is, however, another side to the summer’s heat and humidity: it produces hordes of swarming insects. The air is humming with the buzz of all kinds of these critters, some of them the annoying stinging and biting type, like mosquitoes, sandflies, horse and deer flies, and nasty gnats. Nobody really knows for sure how, when and where insects have emerged and evolved. It was only 23 years ago – in 1994 – that paleontologists, who probed the fertile fossil beds in Western Australia, discovered a 15 cm long cockroach-like amphibian (now named kalbarria) that may be the ancestor of all insects. Whatever their origin, they now are bountiful; insects outnumber humans by approximately 200 million to one. Yes, a few of them are pesky beasties that seriously detract from enjoying cottage life, camping, hiking and other outdoor activities. That is why we dislike them, but that sentiment is misplaced because they are indispensable in preserving the wilderness we treasure and deserve more respect than they get. [caption id="attachment_23164" align="alignleft" width="413"]Northern myotis bat clinging to a surface, species at risk The Northern Myotis bat (Myotis septentrionalis) is an endangered species in Ontario and across Canada.[/caption] Blackflies, for instance, are a barometer of good water quality, and there would be major consequences for stream productivity if they were eliminated. Mosquitoes fill an essential role in the food chain, both as nutrition for other species and as pollinators for grasses, goldenrod and orchids. They are also an important food source for many bird and bat species. Bats consume 3,000 or more mosquitoes and other insects every night. (According to The Texas Gardener, they are also responsible for up to 95% of the seed dispersal essential to the regeneration of forests; so don’t dismiss bats!) Insects have developed astounding and sophisticated systems of chemical warfare and communication about 348 million years before humans even entered the world stage. Yet, this amazingly diverse and complex group of insects has been vilified, pilloried and, in many cases, exterminated for no other reason than they bug us. They are misunderstood creatures that play a vital role in ecosystems but many suffer from our intolerance – we swat and zap them at will. Less than 1% of all known insect species are considered potential pests; the other 99% suffer from negative stereotyping when they should actually be lauded. These marvels of evolution and adaptation are powerful creatures that can lift 50 times their own weight, wear their skeletons like armour, smell with their antennae, hear with their abdomens or front legs, and breathe through a series of minuscule holes in their body walls. Our repulsion is totally misguided. Rather we should marvel at them. The summer also brings creatures with a huge appetite to many of our trees: very hungry gypsy moth caterpillars that prefer chomping on the leaves of choke cherry, oak, maple, spruce, birch and aspen. They have a natural breeding cycle that peaks about every 7 – 10 years. This summer appears to be one where they will reach high infestation levels, according to Matthew Cutler, a spokesperson for the City of Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation Department. He says that normally there would be about 10,000 gypsy moths in the space of a hectare, but at peak infestation there may be that many in just one tree. To deal with the expected problem, the City will approve some spraying by helicopter of bacillus thurigiensis, as well as some ground spraying, tree injection, and mass egg removal in some areas. The moths are an invasive species that was first introduced to North America from Europe in 1869. [caption id="attachment_26830" align="alignright" width="408"]Image of a Canadian Goose and turtles Rouge Park[/caption] To end with here are some good news about our beloved Rouge National Urban Park, now a full 79.1 square kilometres. After five years of work to ensure that the park has the level of protection needed, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) celebrated the passage of Bill C-18 by the House of Commons and Senate. The Bill received Royal Assent on June 19. Now nature will be the top priority of the park's management by law. This is the first National Urban Park in Canada, proclaimed in May 2015, and Nature Canada, CPAWS and friends of the Rouge fought hard to ensure it has strong conservation measures, so when the model is replicated in other parts of Canada, nature will always come first. Good news indeed! On your summer hikes remember that it behooves us to develop a proper conservation ethic. However, in an imperfect world you may be forgiven for swatting a few pesky critters; after all, there are enough of them around.  S.G. Sources: Canadian Wildlife Federation, Ontario Nature, Nature Conservancy of Canada, Toronto Metro, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, and field notes. Earlier Nature Notes are archived and accessible on www.rougevalleynaturalists.com by clicking on “Nature Notes”.

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5 Ways to Be A Nature-Friendly Camper
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5 Ways to Be A Nature-Friendly Camper

[caption id="attachment_33210" align="alignleft" width="160"]Guest blogger Rebecca Kennedy Guest blogger Rebecca Kennedy[/caption]

This post was written by guest blogger Rebecca Kennedy.

The glorious Canadian summer is in full swing, and admission to our national parks, national historic sites, and national marine conservation areas is free in 2017 for #Canada150 with the Discovery Pass. If you can’t go to one of those, no worries—there are myriad provincial and private parks to set up camp, take in our great outdoors and create wonderful memories with your loved ones. With nature and your safety in mind, here are some reminders for how to be a conscientious camper. Bring weather-accommodating clothing. The weather can change at a drop of your sunhat. Take along proper, quality gear that sets you up for varying inclement weather—rain, cold, heat. This means a waterproof rain jacket, a sunhat, shorts and long pants (or pants that convert into shorts), extra socks, and closed-toe, waterproof shoes for handling slippery rocks or sitting near the campfire. As well, think in terms of layers of clothing, so you can switch comfortably between hot and cold temperatures and dry and wet conditions.

shoes-1638873_1280Secure your food. When campers leave their food out in the open, bears lose their timidity of humans, resulting in them approaching campsites regularly and becoming a public safety issue. Take care to not leave food and ANY food-related items out, whether it’s empty or full coolers, dirty or clean dishes and bottles, and open or canned pet food. Some campgrounds provide bear-proof storage containers. The other easiest way to keep your stash out of their paws is to stow everything, including prep tools, in your hard-sided vehicle. tent-lakeClean yourself responsibly. Make sure your hygiene items such as deodorant and shampoo are unscented, so as not to rouse the interest of curious animals. If you don’t wish to rinse off with only water, use unscented biodegradable soap, available at outdoor stores. You can also use unscented baby wipes—just be sure to bring a large resealable bag to store the used ones for disposal once you return to the campground or come home. Whichever option you choose, be sure to clean and relieve yourself at least 60 metres away from both your designated campsite and any water source. Do not interact with wildlife. Whether it’s feeding, approaching, or engaging, it’s a no-no. Observe animals from a safe distance. Parks Canada recommends a minimum of 30 metres distance from elk and 100 metres from predators such as black bears, wolves and cougars. This is when binoculars come in handy. When walking around, be astute of immediate sights and sounds, such as droppings, paw prints, or claw and bite marks on trees—you don’t want to surprise an animal, accidentally or not. Even squirrels can give you a serious bite! Never leave your pets unattended. Keep your pets leashed and in your view at all times. Leashing your animal will help keep them safe, as they can attract bears, cougars, wolves, or coyotes, and dogs have been known to provoke defensive behavior in bears. Keep your dog’s barking to a minimum, as it will disturb wildlife and other campers. You may want to outfit your pet’s harness or leash with a light so they’ll be easier to spot if they run off.
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5 Reasons I Love Tidnish Bay
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5 Reasons I Love Tidnish Bay

[caption id="attachment_31795" align="alignleft" width="150"]Image of Amanda Simard Amanda Simard, Writing Intern[/caption] This blog was written by writing intern Amanda Simard. When someone asks me my favourite place in the world, I don’t have to think twice before answering Tidnish Bay, Nova Scotia. There are few things in life I enjoy more than a quiet day spent sitting by the ocean shore with a good book or a pair of binoculars.When asked why I pick Tidnish – the answer comes easily as well. The community The people I’ve met over summers spent in the area have always been exceptionally kind. They are always eager to share their latest stories and invite newcomers into the community as readily as family. There is a great community spirit and I’ve enjoyed many evenings filled with pleasant conversation, laughter and even music. With weekly events like the Pic n’ Grin, there is always something to do and someone to share a laugh with. The beach It may well sound like a cliché to talk about loving the beach, but I’m not talking about just any beach here! I love a beach with tides and that is great for swimming, kayaking and breathtaking walks along the red sand flats. Let’s not forget, the Tidnish coast is lined with red rock cliffs which are truly a sight to see. It's also a great spot for bird watching and it isn’t uncommon to catch sight of a seal or a dolphin swimming in the distance. [caption id="attachment_33281" align="alignright" width="300"]Photo by Amanda Simard Photo by Amanda Simard[/caption] The artisanal shops From pewter crafts to rug hooking and even wine, there isn’t a shortage of artisanal, craft and gift shops in the area. I love spending the afternoon in nearby Pugwash, hitting up the various craft shops, or heading down to Amherst to visit Diane Fitzpatrick’s rug hooking studio. For wine, there’s Winegarden Estates just across the New Brunswick border, or Jost Vineyard a ways down in Malagash. The trails For those days when I’m looking to change things up from walking along the sandy shore, there are plenty of trails nearby. Some are through forest while other are through marshlands or along the coast. The sights are amazing and there is plenty of wildlife to keep an eye out for. The sunset Wouldn’t you know it? Another cliche! What can I say? A gorgeous sunset across an ocean horizon – sign me up anytime! Add in a bonfire and some marshmallows, it’s hard to think of a more perfect summer evening.

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Ottawa: 5 Great Hikes in Your Own Backyard
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Ottawa: 5 Great Hikes in Your Own Backyard

[caption id="attachment_33972" align="alignleft" width="150"]Image of Greg Nesbitt Guest Blogger Greg Nesbitt[/caption] This blog was written by guest blogger Greg Nesbitt. Guest blogger Greg Nesbitt is doing a series of his choice for the top five hikes to do in and around Ottawa! The first of the series is on Luskville Falls, Quebec. Hike 1: Luskville Falls - A great workout with a lot of natural beauty [caption id="attachment_33940" align="alignright" width="284"]Image of Luskville Falls Luskville Falls. Photo by Greg Nesbitt[/caption] When Prime Minster King designated Gatineau Park as federal land and part of the National Capital Region in 1938, he gave area residents a 361 square kilometres outdoor wonderland. The park has year-round activities including endless hiking trails with all levels of difficulty. One of my favourite trails in the park is located just outside Luskville, Quebec. Luskville Falls provides hikers with nice views of the valley and a challenging terrain. Described by the National Capital Commission as difficult, the hike winds its way past the falls and over several undulating rocks. I first discovered this trail when I was looking for a challenging hike in the Ottawa area, after doing Vancouver’s Grouse Mountain Grind. Similar to our neighbours out West, this is a demanding hike with plenty to see along the way, including natural waterfalls and multiple rock formations. The trail is well marked with arrows up and down and two different paths for you to traverse. There are magnificent views of the Ottawa River below and several places to get stunning photos. This hike is recommended for anyone who can handle a difficult trail and doesn’t mind earning their views of the valley.  In addition to the hike, there are plenty of picnic tables and areas to congregate at the bottom of the hills before or after your adventure to the top. Helpful Information[one_third] [caption id="attachment_33949" align="alignright" width="150"]By the Numbers: Elevation: 290 meters to the Fire Tower Distance: Approximately 2.25km each way (4.5km round trip) Average Time to get to the top: 60 minutes By the Numbers:
Elevation: 290 meters to the Fire Tower
Distance: Approximately 2.25km each way (4.5km round trip)
Average Time to get to the top: 60 minutes[/caption] [/one_third] [one_third] [caption id="attachment_33947" align="alignright" width="150"]Best Time To Go: Spring gives you the best conditions to see the falls with maximum winter runoff but can be muddy. Best Time To Go:
Spring gives you the best conditions to see the falls with maximum winter runoff but can be muddy.[/caption] [/one_third] [one_third_last] [caption id="attachment_33950" align="alignright" width="150"] How to get out there: Highway / Autoroute 148 leaving the Alymer section of Gatineau (The turnoff is just before you get to the village of Luskville) How to get out there:
Highway / Autoroute 148 leaving the Alymer section of Gatineau
(The turnoff is just before you get to the village of Luskville)[/caption] [/one_third_last] Enjoy and hope to see you out there!

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Natural Capitalism: A conversation with Women for Nature Laura Couvrette and Cara MacMillan
nature trail
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Natural Capitalism: A conversation with Women for Nature Laura Couvrette and Cara MacMillan

[caption id="attachment_31054" align="alignleft" width="150"]Image of Cara Macmillan Cara MacMillan, Women for Nature member[/caption] Featuring Women for Nature member's Laura Couvrette. Written by fellow Women for Nature member Cara MacMillan.  [caption id="attachment_31533" align="alignright" width="150"]Image of Laura Couvrette Laura Couvrette, Women for Nature member[/caption]

“We believe that organizations can do more. Organizations can increase profitability and efficiency while becoming more environmentally and socially responsible.”
  Allow me to introduce you to my friend and partner in Women for Nature, Laura Couvrette. Laura and I share a passion for nature and for business. This article is about Laura’s journey and commitment. Laura is from small town northwestern Ontario. She believes in community. Growing up, she saw and felt the wealth in nature as it provided jobs to her community. But nature was more than that– Laura saw that the abundance of lakes and trees need to remain so that we each can feel the healing and restorative powers of our natural world. Laura’s personal need to connect to nature leads her joyfully down many of Toronto’s beautiful running trails. “There are beautiful trees in amongst the concrete that can quiet your mind and your soul, but one needs to look to see them.” Business and nature are not mutually exclusive. The challenge that each of us in Women for Nature share is to practice authenticity. “We need to weave a respect for nature into the daily routines of our lives.” Image of a trail in the forestSo what inspired you to become a Woman for Nature? “I love the idea that women who are not necessarily working in the environmental field can share in the collective responsibility to stand, speak and champion nature. I am honoured to be a part of the conversation on how we each can be stewards of the earth.” As we continued to chat, Laura told me a secret that I have to share with you (and yes I have her permission.) “I pick up trash.” Yes as Laura runs along the trails or walks to the park and she sees litter along the road, she brings a bag along so that she can recycle it appropriately. “There is a neighbour of mine who takes the time to walk through our neighbourhood and nearby park and pick up the things others had thoughtlessly thrown out. I love that he does the right thing for the right reasons even when no one is looking. That is what I try to do in every aspect of my life. I want to do the right thing even when no one is watching.” So is there anything you would like to add…. “I enjoy connecting and learning from other women who share my passion for nature. We are women from many different professions, many different parts of Canada, many different backgrounds and we help each other see things differently. Being a Woman for Nature has sharpened my lens and it allows me to see what needs to change.” Tell me who inspired you? My inspiration has to be my great aunt Florence. Remember, we lived in a very small town. Our world was small. Yet Florence was very well read and intellectually well-rounded woman. She always kept an open mind. Florence was interested in the world and she challenged me to be curious and to explore different viewpoints from different perspectives: science, business, art, pop culture and community. And how do you apply what Florence taught you? I apply the same open-mindedness and respect in all aspects of my personal and business life. Creating meaningful connections with people is achieved when you go outside of the ordinary. Empathy, connection, community, family, respect, stewardship, balance and inner quiet are the values by which I lead my life. And in business, sometimes these values may not lead to immediate returns, but the value proposition over the long-term is powerful and more profitable. Any advice? [caption id="attachment_33937" align="alignright" width="435"]Image of the nature in Toronto Nature in Toronto[/caption] "See nature where you are. I challenge the idea that Toronto is only skyscrapers and cement. It is simply not true. Nature is everywhere and we need to open our eyes and find it. There are great apps that show us where nature is in our community. As a family, we adopted and planted a tree in our local park. I love watering our tree with my son. Children want to go outside and they want to explore. I get to see the excitement when my son sees the first snail after the winter thaw. This is who I am. I renew myself in the forests of Toronto. Women for Nature champions nature in our communities. We share our stories, inspire each other and encourage each other to think broadly. We challenge each other to keep an open mind and to see our world from many perspectives: science, business, art, pop culture and community. And we also challenge each other to do the right thing, even when no one is looking." To learn more about our amazing Women for Nature, please click here.
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Why I went out alone in Algonquin Park
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Why I went out alone in Algonquin Park

[caption id="attachment_32306" align="alignleft" width="150"]Image of Cobi Sharpe Cobi Sharpe, Guest Blogger[/caption] This blog is written by guest blogger Cobi Sharpe. I gained so much from my experience. Not only did I prove to myself that I can go out alone for four days, portage a canoe and carry all the necessities with me, but I also surprised myself in how I handled the adventure both mentally and emotionally. For me, typically, the first night of camping in the backcountry is spent believing that every sound I hear is a bear getting at my food barrel or wandering around the campsite. The second night, some of the noises sound like a bear, and by the third night, I’m so exhausted from not sleeping that I crash for the night and don’t hear anything. After that, I’m familiar with the sounds of the night and sleeping isn’t an issue anymore. [caption id="attachment_33740" align="alignright" width="300"]Placeholder,Photo by Cobi Sharpe Photo by Cobi Sharpe[/caption] The first night of my solo trip, I only woke up to the sound of gusting wind blowing the fly around. I had to go out a couple of times to re-peg it down, and then eventually moved my tent altogether. I had an amazing sleep. Maybe it was the fresh air; maybe it was not being able to hear any noises but the wind. Either way, I completely surprised myself because I thought I would be afraid. My plan to paddle some distance and portage each day quickly dwindled. There was a lot of wind, and I just didn’t feel comfortable paddling in those conditions. The ice had melted off the lakes in Algonquin only a couple of days before I embarked on my trip. I was on my own and playing it safe was my number one priority. Even though it rained during the first two days of my trip, I found solace in reading my book in the tent, and going out to gather and cut wood for a fire that I didn’t end up having anyway because everything was wet. I don’t ever mind the rain, especially on a canoe trip. On day three the sun came out, and I followed the sun patches around my campsite all day. [caption id="attachment_33738" align="alignleft" width="300"]Placeholder,Photo by Cobi Sharpe Photo by Cobi Sharpe[/caption] The other way I kept myself busy was photography. I love being able to get to know a campsite, and start taking photographs that bring out the special aspects of that place. Maybe it’s the view, maybe there are huge mature trees, or maybe there is just an unbelievable amount of moose poop (you’ll have to watch the video). Either way, I love seeing and discovering nature through my camera’s lens. I wasn’t scared, I wasn’t nervous and I wasn’t emotional. I couldn’t understand why. I thought it might be because I was ready, capable and prepared to venture out solo. But when I paddled back on my last day and saw the permit office on Canoe Lake, I started crying. What an incredible accomplishment! My confidence went through the roof. So why did I go on my first solo canoe trip? Because I can. You can watch the video of my adventure here.


Cobi Sharpe is an award-winning photographer and outdoor blogger who enjoys canoeing, backcountry camping, hiking and being out in nature. Check out her website here!
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Schoolyard Blitz – Mud Lake Edition
Lac Mud
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Schoolyard Blitz – Mud Lake Edition

This blog was written by Axel, a communications volunteer from the Youth LEAD: Employment Program for Newcomer and Immigrant Youth.  On June 13, Nature Canada and a Grade 4 and 5 class from Regina Street Public School in Ottawa went to Mud Lake to discover nature in their NatureHood. The students at Regina Street Public School have the incredible opportunity and fortune to visit Mud Lake on a weekly basis, given its close proximity to the school. As a result, the students have a strong affinity towards this special place, knowledge of the area, and are very comfortable in the nature trails. [caption id="attachment_33517" align="alignleft" width="300"]exploring nature exploring nature[/caption] Mud Lake is an NCC Conservation Area located within the Lac Deschenes Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA), the site of Ottawa’s signatory NatureHood! Mud Lake was recently acknowledged in the Ottawa Citizen as being one of the most ecologically diverse spots in Canada! With over 400 species found in this 60-hectare wetland, it is truly a remarkable hotspot for biodiversity! We asked the kids to form small groups and, with a NatureBlitz species checklist, we went on an expedition to discover what Mud Lake had to offer. To ensure a fun and safe NatureBlitz, we talked about safety including what poisonous plants to be aware of, such as poison ivy, and to be tick-aware. As we were walking through the trails, we noticed different varieties of trees, like birch, maple, oak and more! With a closer look, we even found berries, mushrooms and different species of wildflowers. [caption id="attachment_33518" align="alignright" width="225"]Bird Nest Bird Nest[/caption] Not only did we see lots of plant life, we were able to observe a number of insects, birds and mammals. We found Canada geese, mallard ducks, frogs, painted turtles, squirrels and many different insects including spiders and various butterflies. One of the highlights was when one of the students spotted a little brown snake! Coiled up it was no bigger than a quarter! We spent a lot of time observing it. It was a real pleasure to see the kids enjoying being out in nature, sharing their knowledge and working together to identify species. When they could not identify some of the birds or plants, one of Nature Canada’s volunteers, Jen, opened her field guides and helped fill the gaps. Another exciting moment was seeing a Red-eyed Vireo sitting in her nest! When the bird fled, we were able to see three eggs inside the nest. Based on discussions with the kids and teachers, we discovered that 2 of the eggs belonged to a Brown-headed Cowbird, known to abandon their eggs and to be fostered by other birds (usually at the expense of the host’s own baby chicks). A complete list of our discoveries in the Mud Lake is available, and I hope it will inspire you to want to visit the area! I would like to thank everyone who participated in the NatureBlitz, and invite everybody to get out and connect with Nearby Nature in your NatureHood!


Recruited as part of the Youth LEAD program, volunteering with Nature Canada has been an amazing journey so far. Apart from technical knowledge gained, I learned about all the different types of programs Nature Canada has. The most exciting part of this volunteering opportunity was when we went to discover an ecologically important habitat in the urban part of Canada’s capital region. In this Schoolyard Blitz, I got a chance to know more about biodiversity found in Canada.
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An ode to my mother – passing down the love of nature generation to generation
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An ode to my mother – passing down the love of nature generation to generation

[caption id="attachment_32954" align="alignleft" width="150"]Image of Cheyanne Richardson, Donor Communications and Stewardship Coordinator Cheyanne Richardson, Donor Communications and Stewardship Coordinator[/caption] Every Mother’s Day I buy my mom a flat of spring perennials for her to plant in her garden. Usually, it is accompanied with a handmade card and breakfast in bed. This is the first year that I will be wishing her a Happy Mother’s day from 500 km away. Since I won’t be able to make her breakfast in bed this year I wanted to reflect on how my mother’s love of nature has truly shaped who I am today. My mother instilled in me a deep love of nature that was first passed down from her mother. My nana always used to say a red-breasted robin sighting was the first sign of spring. Gardening and listening to the sweet sounds of songbirds are both pastimes my nana shared with my mom. Bright red Cardinals and Blue Jays were my nana’s favourite birds, even if they ruined her sunflowers. I am grateful that my mother continued to pass on this love of nature to my brother, sister and me. As a millennial, and having grown up in a medium-sized city, people are always shocked to hear that I grew up without cable television or that I had dial-up internet and no cell phone until I was 17. From a very young age, my mother taught us that time outside was a priority; we were instructed to not start our school homework until the sun went down and after school, we were not allowed inside until dinner was ready. Weekends were spent on bike rides along the Grand River or picnics and lawn games in local parks. Growing up vacation always involved packing up the tent trailer and going camping, road trips to PEI, visits to my aunt and cousins in BC, family reunions in New Brunswick; if you asked my mother camping was always the best way to roam the country. [caption id="attachment_32956" align="alignright" width="366"]Image of Theresa McGillcuddy Theresa McGillcuddy- Tofino BC[/caption]

Lots of camping memories. My wife and I are excited to take our two little ones camping with their Grammy & Papa.” - James Richardson  
My mother would tell us stories of catching toads with her brothers, to this day she still gets excited when a new friendly toad comes to visit her in the garden or the pond at the cottage.
 “Mom was like the boy who cried wolf, she would be outside yelling your name as if there was a huge emergency but really, she was just excited she saw a praying mantis” – Erin Richardson  
My most cherished memories are of spending time in nature at my family’s cottage at Sauble Beach on Lake Huron. On brisk summer evenings we’d go to the beach to watch the sunset then walk the streets at twilight in hopes of seeing a rabbit or two. Nature is the foundation of every single one of these memories and I’m grateful that my mother taught me that spending time with loved ones and spending time outdoors are the best ways to spend time. This year, I instructed my father to buy her a flat of perennials from me to have on Mother’s Day and I’m sure we will celebrate with lunch in the backyard next time I go home to visit. Happy Mother’s Day Mom! [button link="https://netdonor.net/ea-action/action?ea.client.id=1909&ea.campaign.id=69702" size="medium" target="_blank" color="red"]This Mother’s Day consider showing your mom some love by giving a gift that will protect mothers in nature for years to come.[/button]  
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Connect with Nature: April Showers
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Connect with Nature: April Showers

[caption id="attachment_33210" align="alignleft" width="160"]Guest blogger Rebecca Kennedy Guest blogger Rebecca Kennedy[/caption] This post was written by guest blogger Rebecca Kennedy. Variations of the English saying “April showers bring May flowers” date back as far back as 1660. With its longer days and warmer temperatures, spring across much of Canada typically means snowmelt and increased rainfall. Take pleasure in the new season with these ideas. Observe worms. After a rain shower, you have probably noticed earthworms on sidewalks or in the grass. Why do they surface when it rains? Contrary to a commonly held opinion, it is not to prevent themselves from drowning. Many scientists think that worms come above ground after rainfall to migrate (as they can move greater distances above than within soil) or to escape predators (as the vibration of raindrops on soil mimics that of roving moles). If you’d like to volunteer to monitor worms, learn about the WormWatch program. umbrellaLearn about clouds. There are three main groups – cirrus, stratus and cumulus. These are further broken down into ten general types, varying in their basic form and altitude. Clouds cover 60–70% of the Earth at any particular time, and only certain ones produce precipitation. Clouds even exist in outer space! The US National Weather Service provides a straightforward overview to get you started. Download the CloudSpotter app for iPhone by the Cloud Appreciation Society and develop a keener eye for formations in the sky. Watch a film. Stay dry indoors and spend a rainy day on the couch. The beautifully rendered animated film Ponyo, by Hayao Miyazake, features water prominently, and human relationships with the elements as a theme. Singin’ in the Rain is a classic Hollywood musical that is sure to put some “spring” in your step, especially with its exuberant and iconic sequence of the title number. And who can forget the final scene of downpour and declarations in Four Weddings and a Funeral? For more ideas of movies with memorable rain scenes, see this list by Taste of Cinema. Acknowledgements: Scientific AmericanEncyclopedia of Atmospheric Sciences, 2nd ed.National Geographic SocietyThe Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs

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