Our May newsletter includes a recommendation to try nature journaling. We also encourage everyone to notice the first blooms of Washington’s state flower, the Pacific Rhododendron, this month. Good places to find them are the Quimper Wildlife Corridor, Miller Peninsula State Park, the Lower Big Quilcene River Trail, and the two-mile, 2000-ft. elevation gain of the Mt. Walker trail. If you prefer to drive to the top, when the road is open you can walk from one viewpoint to the other. Please send us your rhododendron photo or sketch for a collage in our June newsletter.
During this pandemic, we have written in our newsletters about the physical and mental health benefits of walking in our forests. Japanese researchers found that connecting with nature through shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing, reduces stress, lowers blood pressure, and boosts immunity. In Denmark, the Danish concept of friluftsliv, or living in the free air, promotes spending time in nature. Gretchen Daily, a professor of environmental science at Stanford University, says in The Wall Street Journal, “There’s an urgent need emerging in science and at the gut level to increase the nature experience. This field is just exploding.” Rather than taking 10,000 steps daily, perhaps our goal can be enjoying two hours in nature.
Our Natural History Society is celebrating April as Poetry Month with a poem by Oma Landstra, a member of our Guiding Committee, in the attached newsletter. Oma writes, “Madrona is a sacred tree to the Native Americans, and therefore they never burn it in their fires or at sweats. The etymology of ‘Tree’ and ‘Truth’ indicates they come from the same root. South of the Siskiyous this tree is called ‘Madrone.’ North of these mountains it is called ‘Madrona.’ British Columbia uses ‘Arbutus.’ ” In March, our Natural History book club read Passings, a new book of poetry by one of the members of our book club, Holly Hughes. Poet and naturalist Tim McNulty describes these poems of extinct birds as “elegiac meditations.” Noreen Parks writes, “Our discussion of Holly’s book Passings is so relevant to this moving collection of readings and music based on Kathleen Dean Moore’s latest book:” https://liberalarts.oregonstate.edu/feature-story/music-save-earth-s-songs
April is also Native Plant Appreciation Month, and it’s a perfect time to visit one or all of our local native plant gardens: Kul Kah Han Native Plant Garden at H. G. Carroll Park; Kah Tai Prairie in Port Townsend (by the golf course); the Native Plant Garden at Buck’s Lake in Hansville; and Sequim’s prairie. Stop by your closest native plant garden every week to watch the new blossoms emerge.
We hope you will also use your iNaturalist account to participate in the Port Townsend Marine Science Center’s annual BioBlitz at Fort Worden on May 1. Help us identify as many plants and animals as possible. Contact AmeriCorps volunteer Meghan-Grace Slocombe for details: <email@example.com>
The Natural History Society’s book club just read (and loved!) Kelly Brenner’s Seattle-based Nature Obscura: A City’s Hidden Natural World. Her website is fun to explore: http://www.metrofieldguide.com