Friday, June 9, 2000
Thanks to Those Behind the Scenes
Every once in a while, I like to use this soapbox to highlight and thank the volunteers who work so hard to enhance the quality of life in Carlisle. One has only to look at the press releases in this week's paper to be impressed with the breadth of volunteer activity that is going on. The Carlisle Trails Committee has been quietly working throughout town, installing bridges over wetlands, clearing debris and repairing a vandalized footbridge on the Greenough property. The OHD committee (short for Old Home Day committee) has been working tirelessly for months, planning the art show and the country fair, organizing the parade and the races and, returning this year after a long absence, the dunking booth. I have to admit to a certain soft spot for the dunking booth. When my husband and I first moved to town, we looked at Old Home Day as a sort of town orientation that pointed out who were the artists in town, who were the bakers to be reckoned with and who were the good sports. This last bit of information came from watching the dunking booth, as selectmen and other town board members took turns, alongside our police and fire chiefs, getting dunked. I have always thought the better of these people for their willingness to get soaked for a good cause.
One group of people hold a particularly dear place in my heart, especially at this time of year. My daughter will be graduating from CCHS tomorrow and, thanks to some very dedicated parents, she will be able to celebrate the achievement at a safe, all-night party known as Senior Safari. The Safari happens thanks to the monumental efforts of parents, many of whom do not even have children in the senior class. They do it knowing that, when it comes time for their children to graduate, others will step up to help create a safe party environment. These people can never be thanked enough for their efforts.
All of these groups, as well as many others in town, can always use a few hours of help. As the summer arrives, and school no longer offers so many opportunities for a volunteer's energies, consider pitching in and while you're at it, include the kids. Can you think of a better way to set a good example?
A Diverse Town
A couple of years ago, Peter Alden, author of the Audubon Field Guide to New England, organized a "Biodiversity Day." For a single 24-hour period, serious naturalists and researchers in field biology took to the fields, swamps and woods of Concord to see how many species of living things they could identify. From bats to beetles, ants to agarics, they totaled over 2,000 different species. E.O. Wilson, the celebrated "ant man," even found some ants he hadn't seen before. Not because they were particularly rare, but because he hadn't studied his back yard so closely before.
Few of us have. We may go to Belize or the Great Barrier Reef or the Serengeti Plain to watch birds, lions or sharks, but the glorious conservation lands of Carlisle welcome only a tiny part of the town's population. Our birding spots are exceptional. (See Tom and D'Ann Brownrigg's article, "Birding Spots in Carlisle, Massachusetts: Great Brook Farm State Park and Cranberry Bog Conservation Land," Bird Observer, Vol. 28, No. 2, pp. 82-91.) How many of us even know every tree or flower (the ones we didn't plant) on our own lot? Alden once commented that 100 years ago, ten thousand people could identify the commoner species of flowers, birds, insects, trees, butterflies and mushrooms in their own town. Now, after a century of education and the rise of the environmental movement, perhaps 200 can do so.
There is no better way to appreciate the intricate web of life that covers every square inch of earth than to bend down and inspect what's growing (or crawling) at your feet. Even trees you take for granted turn out to be enormously varied and a challenge to identify. Tiny flowers grow in the cracks of pavement, pollinated by nearly-invisible insects. Mushrooms and mosses, hiding in mud and shade, are ethereally beautiful. You can't really define the word "biodiversity" until you've looked at the "bio" part really close up.
This weekend, we in Carlisle have a chance to increase the ranks of people who can identify our nonhuman town residents and document our biodiversity. Three walks will take interested townspeople into our fields and woods to count species of anything living, large enough to be seen by eye. The event will occur over three days this year, instead of the original single day. Details are provided on page 20 in this issue. The goal is modest: only 500 species. Anyone is welcome; you don't have to be a certified mycologist or herpetologist to participate.
Come join fellow nature lovers and satisfy an hour's curiosity before heading to the dump -- at Towle Field, the Cranberry Bog or the State Park. Specialize in one area: trees, birds, snakes, wildflowers, mushroomsor look at whatever is in front of you. Bring a hand lens, a favorite field guide, binoculars, bug spray and long pants to ward off poison ivy. Get acquainted with all that conservation land we're so privileged to have!
© 2000 The Carlisle Mosquito