Big Night

Big Night

I’ve been watching wood frogs at a local-to-me vernal pool for more than a week now, hearing the males “quack” and watching the females arrive, observing amplexus (male frogs mounted on top of egg-laying females, fertilizing said eggs), counting egg masses. But I wasn’t seeing any signs of the other amphibian species that usually return here in the spring: spotted salamanders or spring peepers. All that changed last night.

It started raining at about 6pm, and continued most of the night. Temperatures hovered around 45 throughout. At 9pm, I recruited a few accommodating family members, hiked over to the pond, and steeped smack into the biggest Big Night of our lives.

We saw at least a dozen spotted salamanders wiggle-walking toward the pond, or already in it.

We heard (but didn’t see) our first peepers of the season.

We even observed wood frogs leaving the pool, hopping back to the woods.

Sometimes the world feels overwhelming in really hard ways, and sometimes it feels overwhelming in really good ways. The trick, I remembered last night, is to keep our eyes open for both.

Happy exploring, friends. xo

Postscript: If you need a little background on Big Night, here’s an essay I wrote about it for Yankee magazine last spring.


Amy’s Find

Amy’s Find

Here’s another great Flora & Fauna find, this one from Amy in Massachusetts. These are wood frogs in the frenzy of spring mating season. What a photo! Thanks so much for letting me share it, Amy. 🐸

Keep getting outside, friends, as you’re able. Breathe some fresh air, soak up some sunshine, or some rain, or some snow, and let nature do its thing for you. If you find something you’d like to share, I’d love to see it.

Snow: a hot tip!

For all my New England friends creating Flora & Fauna books, I hope you woke up excited this morning, because this snow? It’s the perfect animal tracking tool! If there were animals walking around your neighborhood last night, you’ll find their prints in the snow covering your yard, park, or sidewalk.

Up above are a couple photos I snapped on my back porch last night, just as the snow was starting to fall where I live. That beautiful line of tracks? A wee bird.

Happy tracking!

Book Launch News, and Coping

Hello, friends.

I’m writing with an update on the spring launch of You’re Invited to a Moth Ball. Many of the planned events have already been postponed, and its highly likely the rest will be as well. At this time, protecting as many of our friends and family and community members as is humanly possible through diligent hygiene and social distancing is paramount. Ellen Harasimowicz and I are, of course, disappointed. Our amazing team at Charlesbridge Publishing, too. Rest assured, though, that we will launch this book with all due fanfare as soon as it’s safe for us to do!

Like many of you, I’m struggling to navigate the uncertainty that coronavirus has made front and center in my life. I’m following the directives of those with the most practical knowledge of the situation and how to contain spread of the virus. I’ll include a few links below. I’m also doing what I can to reduce stress levels. In other words, I’m retreating to my one true comfort: nature.

The images above are from a hike I took yesterday. I didn’t see a single person (and if I did, I’d have simply waved and kept a prudent distance; experts recommend six feet). I didn’t see a single frog either, although that’s what I’d hoped for. I did see a lot of interesting and unknown-to-me things that were both beautiful and distracting. And it turns out beauty and distraction was just what I needed.

Maybe its what you need right now, too?

Stay safe, friends. We’ll get through this. We will.



Information on the WHYS and HOWS of social distancing

Poignant piece on you and me and our finest hour

Being Frog

So, are you the sort of person who would be distracted by a parade of hopping frogs and excited by the idea of helping them? Do you like being out of doors, even at night? Are you intrigued by the thought of listening to spring? Have you held a frog or toad in your hand, looked it in the eye, and felt something?

These are questions I posed in the pages of Citizen Scientists, suggesting those who answered YES! would make good frog watchers. Today I’d like to add that those people–frog people–will also adore this new picture book from April Pulley Sayre.

Being Frog is a delight, cover to cover, a celebration of language and image and, of course, frogs. Don’t miss this one, friends!

New Writing: Wild Bounty

I’m pleased to share that a feature I wrote about Rachel Goclawski, a Worcester county mushroom forager and wild food enthusiast, was published in the winter 2020 issue of Edible Worcester. My favorite part of writing this piece was heading out into the woods with Rachel, learning how to find and identify mushrooms. I also got to take one of her classes, and I can’t recommend them enough. All the links you need are in the article. Enjoy!

What Miss Mitchell Saw

Distilling a full life into 32 pages is such a hard thing to do. It requires deep reflection, a willingness to seize a single theme and, at the very same time, to let all the other beautiful and important and relevant themes in that beautiful and important and relevant life go. Hayley Barrett and Diana Dusyka manage this task brilliantly in their picture book biography of Maria Mitchell. WHAT MISS MITCHELL SAW is a marriage of deliberate storytelling and expansive art, a book that focuses readers on knowing and naming, cornerstones of scientific inquiry, but doesn’t get mired in details of astronomy, its devices, and its techniques. I’m really glad I finally picked this gem up. You should too!

Holiday Author Festival

Worcesterites can celebrate local authors, support local bookselling, and shop for the holidays at this year’s Holiday Author Festival, hosted by the booklovers at Root and Press, 623 Chandler Street, Worcester, MA. You’ll find great books, festive music, warm drinks, sweet treats, and plenty of holiday cheer. Here are the details:

Worcester Holiday Author Festival
Root & Press, 623 Chandler Street, Worcester, MA
Saturday, December 14

And here’s a list of the excited local authors–writers of fiction and nonfiction for adults and for children–who will be on hand to sell and sign their books:

Susan Bailey

Loree Griffin Burns

Darlene Corbett

Joyce Derenas

Gordon Duncan

Kathryn Hulick Gargolinski

Cameron Garriepy

Alan Gordon

Jean Grant

Tom Ingrassia

D. V. Mulligan

Linh Nguyen-Ng

Eileen O’Finlan

Wendy O’Leary

Emma G Rose

S.M. Stevens

Raymond Tatten

Tracy Vartanian

Jane Willan

Catherine Zebrowski

Bill Zoldak

We hope to see you there!