In May 2011, after four years of life on McNutt's Island, we moved to Montreal. This blog remains, though, as a (sort of) daily record of our time on the island, and a winding path for anyone who would like to meander about among its magical places. For additional perspectives and insights I recommend Greg's book, Island Year: Finding Nova Scotia (2010), and my Bowl of Light (2012). I'll continue to post once in a while. If you do want to read this blog, one option would be to begin at the beginning of it (which is, as we all know, in blog-world, at the end), and read forward, concluding with the most recent entry. It's a journal, really, so it does makes more sense if you read it that way. But, you know, read it any way you like.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Island spring, 1915

Almost a hundred years ago Nova Scotia's superintendent of schools devised a way to observe and record natural phenomena and seasonal human activities across the province. Each school was given a check list of two hundred phenomena and activities and asked to record the dates of their observations. You can read more about this province-wide phenology project here.

The collected data contains only one year of observations from the school on McNutt's Island, in 1915. And there are only fifty two dated records from that year, not two hundred. But one partial year is better than none at all. So this year I will try to compare my own observations with those of the island children in 1915. This will not be scientific at all since I am just a curious person wandering about. And two single sets of observations nearly a hundred years apart can hardly indicate anything. But I hope it will be interesting anyway. It was so kind of Chris Majka at the Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History to pull out the data for McNutt's Island and send it to me! This is an example of why I love Nova Scotia. People can be so glad to help.

The McNutt's Island list begins with the American robin migrating north, which was noted on March 11, 1915. Now we have a big gang of robins that doesn't migrate south in the first place. They live here all winter, and so we see them quite often. But if a huge flock in sunglasses and straw hats swarms the place any time soon I'll be sure to take note.

Thousand Eyes and Journey North are two online phenology projects oriented toward school children. They offer a fascinating way to watch and participate as nature's patterns unfold.

The image of trailing arbutus -- Nova Scotia's provincial flower -- is by Annie Prat, and is courtesy of Nova Scotia Archives and Records Management (NSARM).

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