A long time ago, I saw a tag on a teabag that read, “Calming tea for a nervous world.” I don’t know who wrote that line, but I never forgot it.
I’ve been drinking a lot of tea lately. Luckily I’ve also found a local podcaster, a regional blog, and a book about a neighboring town that help keep me grounded in the workings of the natural world.
Podcast with Experts on All-Things-Green
First, there's the Growing Greener podcast, 30 minutes of down-to-earth discussion between well-known garden author Thomas Christopher (a Middletown, CT resident) and his guest experts. The podcasts began in 2019, featuring expert speakers such as author and scientist Douglas Tallamy, forager Ellen Zachos, songbird researcher Desiree Narango, bee specialist Heather Holm, ethnobotanist Enrique Salmon, firefly conservationist Ben Pfeiffer, and many, many more.
With each podcast, I learn something new. There are three ways to listen, described at www.thomaschristophergardens.com/podcast.
Blogger Offers a Hyper-Local Lens
Many emails arrive in my inbox every day, but only a few do I click right away. Among those are posts from “Beyond Your Back Door” (BYBD) by nature blogger Jim Sirch.
“Since so many people are working from home and spending so much more time outside, it seemed like a great way to answer questions that might come up about what they’re seeing and hearing in the local environment,” says Sirch. The blog launched in April 2020.
Since the launch, Sirch has put a hyper-local lens on our region’s outdoors, demystifying what’s going on “out there.”
A recent post, “This Cat Should Stay Outside,” explains bobcats’ lives, their local ecology role, and how to co-exist with them. Another, titled “Autumn Calls of Spring Peepers,” explains why some tiny frogs sing both spring and fall.
One of my favorite posts was titled “Is Connecticut Their Florida?”
“Retirees who want to escape the cold and ice to spend the winter down south are known as ‘snowbirds,’” he writes. This nickname also describes the dark-eyed junco (Junco hyemalis). “Juncos overwinter here after spending the summer nesting in northern New England and the Canadian boreal forest. They will head back north next spring.”
What future posts can we anticipate?
Given that Sirch is a trained naturalist with degrees in both forestry and science education, don't be surprised if the wildlife impact of climate change is on the menu.
Reach Jim Sirch or sign up for his blog posts at beyondyourbackdoor.net.
Peaceful Reading, Local Focus
Finally, I’d like to mention a lovely book that I have found both calming and informative. It is Robert Tougias’s 2020 publication, Birder on Berry Lane: Three Acres, Twelve Months, Thousands of Birds.
While the book is ostensibly about Tougias' lifelong love of birds and birding, the more profound message is about a place: his three-acre landscape on Berry Lane.
“This is not the story of a small New England town, nor is it about me,” he writes. “Rather, it is an account of my awareness...By tuning into the life around me, I have come to know my place.”
Elsewhere he writes, “A great feeling of peace comes with this experience. I would like readers to find this peacefulness...”
The scenes and events that take place over 12 months will be familiar to anyone who enjoys the nature of southern Connecticut. Tougias helped me understand some of the subtleties of bird behavior in my own backyard. More important, I did indeed find the book’s quiet tone very soothing.
The bonus section at the back of the book offers more information about our common (and uncommon) avian visitors.
I hope you’ll enjoy these three sources of connection with the natural world if you find yourself in need of “calming tea for a nervous world.”