In early September, the Coastal Resiliency Advisory Committee for Nantucket adopted September as Climate Change Awareness month, followed swiftly by a proclamation by Nantucket Select Board. What does that mean? As part of the proclamation, the Select Board “…encourages all residents to learn more about the threats of climate change and sea level rise and the planning efforts underway to increase community resilience.”
September is a time for reminiscence and reflection: time for all to take a collective exhale as we look back on the growing season. The pace has slowed and we turn our attention to gathering harvests and preparing the delicious comfort food of autumn.
When we talk about climate change on Nantucket, the conversation often revolves around rising sea levels, erosion, increased storms, and storm surge. Lately, though, we have been seeing another effect of climate change in the form of warming ocean waters.
I am a terrible gardener. I try with my perennial garden beds, but the ecologist in me always wants to leave the plants to their own. Let them fend for themselves. Survival of the fittest is the theme. Needless to say, it’s the native plants that don’t need much water and the weedy species that persist. Anyone who has read my previous columns knows that I am not a fan of non-native invasive plants. However, the term “weedy” can be used for a number of plants that may be 1) native, but with fast growing, invasive tendencies (think poison ivy) or 2) non-native species that grow well in ruderal habitats such as roadsides, parking lots, and bike paths.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about the diversity of milkweed plants that grow on Nantucket. By now, the blossoms have faded, the seed pods are maturing, and the lush leaves continue to photosynthesize in the hot August sun.
The Nantucket Shipwreck and Lifesaving Museum has found an innovative way of sharing their exhibits during the global pandemic: they are turning their museum inside out! Instead of welcoming the public inside this year, they are encouraging visitors to come to the museum’s grounds at 158 Polpis Road, to enjoy the gorgeous scenery and see the outdoor exhibits express what would be found inside the museum.
Ticks are as part of life on Nantucket as fog, summer traffic, and sand. That’s not a statement meant to scare people away. It’s a fact of life. Taking preventative and proactive measures will help ensure the health of you, your family, and your pets. First, it is important to know what we have on-island and what the potential dangers, if any, actually are.
“The Little Grey Lady of the Sea” is how we’re known. How many business names around Nantucket have something to do with “Grey Lady”? And it’s not just the gray shingles. Benjamin Moore even has a beautiful blue grey paint color called ‘Nantucket Fog.” On Nantucket, we literally live and breathe fog.
In the garden, a mourning dove calls. The heat of the day is already boasting of its strength, but there’s a slight wind with a gentle touch as it cools the sweat of my brow. The air is saturated and heavy, but the prize offers a brief reprieve in radiant red. It’s tomato season.
When you hear the word “milkweed” you probably think about monarch butterflies. Maybe you’ve even spent some time looking for monarch caterpillars on plants. What you might not realize is that Nantucket boasts six species of milkweed with at least four easily seen around the island. These plants are important to more than just monarchs. They play an important role to many other creatures in the environment.