Early last week on one of the warmer June evenings, I was in my backyard watering the garden. As the hose sprayed my small raised bed full of hope (I am a terrible gardener) I noticed a flash in the grassland behind our house. To my surprise, it was a firefly – the first of the season for me. During the week since then, I have been ruminating on how early this seems to me. I don’t typically notice fireflies until mid-summer during backyard BBQs, definitely post-July 4th. But, as we know, one observation isn’t that much data, so I looked into it a little more.
From 9 to 10 pm next Tuesday night, June 21, scientists from Nantucket’s Maria Mitchell Association (MMA) will lead an expedition to find and study members of a species that is older than the dinosaurs right here on our island beaches, under stars that are even older.
There are three species of native freshwater turtles on Nantucket (in addition to a few illegally released pets). You can find previous articles about the beloved spotted turtle (Clemmys guttata) or the ubiquitous and prehistoric snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina). The third turtle species to roam Nantucket’s freshwater and uplands is the common, native eastern painted turtle (Chrysemys picta picta). The painted turtle is the most widespread native turtle of North America and they are fairly abundant throughout their range (coast to coast through the northern US and southern Canada, south to the Gulf of Mexico from Louisiana to southwestern Alabama).
For many people on Nantucket—visitors and year-rounders—when asked why they love the island, they answer by talking about the natural beauty, open spaces, and bountiful moorlands. The historic charm of our downtown may be enough for some, but it’s escaping the hustle and bustle of town and getting into the open conservation lands that really enchants people.
Spring on Nantucket; one day you’re frolicking in the sunshine wearing short sleeves and planning your summer garden, and the next day you’re wearing a wooly cap and down jacket to go to the grocery store. Depending on when you read this, the pendulum could be swinging in either direction. Whatever the weather, it’s always a good time to get out for a nature exploration—just make sure to dress in layers.
When the Nantucket Daffodil Festival began in 1975, organizers were looking for a way to celebrate spring and bring some life into the island’s shoulder seasons. That first festival was held on May 2nd. In 1980, the Nantucket Daffodil Festival moved to the last weekend in April, where it has remained ever since.
Many of us have been enjoying the mild autumn we’ve had on Nantucket this year with end-of-summer temperatures lingering well into the end of September. Forget “sweater weather”: it’s been more like shorts and t-shirts into October. Even now, in mid-November, we’ve had some 60-degree days and only recently had our first frost. It’s enough to think autumn has moved into winter’s territory.
There is a crispness in the air now as fall begins to settle in. Among the changing leaves and cooler temperatures, another change is happening. For our whitetailed deer population, fall is the most romantic time of the year: the rut.
The rut is the magical season when deer are breeding and more active than any other time of the year. Bucks have shed the velvet from their newly grown antlers and get aggressive with each other fighting for territory and female attention. The females go into estrus and everyone is “twitterpated.”
Envision Nantucket in 10 years. If you’re optimistic, you’ll be imaging our island with sea levels a foot higher than they are now.
Now envision our island community 30 years from now, with sea levels more than 3 feet higher. What can we do? How do we live with rising seas?
Envision Resilience: Designs for Living with Rising Seas is an exhibit that does just that: it presents visions of possible futures on Nantucket. Presented by Re- Main Nantucket upstairs in the Thomas Macy Warehouse at 12 Straight Wharf, this exhibit is the culmination of months of study, discussion, collaboration, and design called The Envision Resilience Nantucket Challenge.