April: Nature’s Month
By Karolyn Preiss, Three Rivers 3 Field Crew Member / AmeriCorps Member
April is a big month in the Conservation World! Earth Month, National Garden Month, and Native Plant Month all at the same time.
I will be honest, I had only heard of Earth Day before I was enlightened with such knowledge of the trifecta that is April, but I want to blog about everything! So, I’m going to!
The Earth in our part of the hemisphere is still pretty well frozen over yet as of the end of March, unless I have jinxed it and all of the snow will now melt in the next few days–here’s to hoping! That being said, we still celebrate the Earth in all of her glory this fine month of April. Buds will burst into bloom. Trees will be planted in honor of the official Earth Day holiday on Saturday April 22nd, 2023. 5ks will be run with family and friends. It is a time for the community to come together and acknowledge the beauty and the magic of Earth’s renewal, the creation of life as Persephone brings her spirit back from the Underworld (if you care for a little mythology in your Naturalist pallet). Lo, the living world reawakens to vibrancy and light.
How do you celebrate? Planting a tree is a classic staple of Earth Day, itself, but not everyone has space for miscellaneous trees, especially if they are living an urban lifestyle. So. Creativity. This is an opportunity to be innovative! Pursuing environmentally-conscious practices to help protect the planet and wildlife is what got me interested in Conservation. I was specifically interested in what we can do at home since I didn’t have a plot of land and didn’t feel comfortable inviting myself into public spaces to take down introduced or invasive species. (Though I do love a good garbage clean-up on/in public lands, and I am a strong advocate for respecting and reveling in life in the natural world.)(Also, a note: serving with the Conservation Corps is opening up the door for me to grow in my study and protection of said public lands, for which I am very grateful.) (And, stay tuned for more blogs on at-home conservation endeavors as the year goes on.) I, myself, am looking forward to trying out the composter that I purchased too long ago. It’s time to give it a spin–literally–now that the contents won’t freeze. But, others may want to try out indoor or vertical gardening in celebration of Earth Day this year which lends itself to April being National Garden Month!
I, unfortunately, do not have a green thumb but have been known to throw some vegetable seeds in the dirt to see what sprouts. (Though I am being a bit blasé, I did get very specific instructions from an expert gardener and look forward to direct-seeding my early carrots on May 5th, specifically. Note to self: put that in the calendar. If you also want to connect with an expert gardener, you may be able to check out local community education courses–that is where I had my tête à tête– or you can connect with local universities that are in the area. Another option is also calling up any old business that sells plants, but they may guard their secrets and take that responsibility very, very seriously. Be wary and proceed with caution. I suggest taking an unobtrusive stance and approaching a sales associate diagonally so as not to appear domineering. Remember to keep the pivot throughout the interaction, for the safety and comfort of all parties.) Flowers are beautiful. I love a good garden and respect the people who are able to maintain them. I want to be like you. But, since I am not there yet, that gives me an opportunity to appreciate native plants during Native Plant Month!
Spring is a great time to see Native Plants. Specifically ephemeral wildflowers. I know that I loved my time flower-hunting along the north shore two springs ago. A carpet of wild trillium can be a fantastic surprise as you meander along any ol’ hiking trails. (Harken back to Persephone’s wonderland of nature awakening.) April may be a little early for that, yet, especially if we’ve still got snow on the ground (most of my trips were mid-May to late-June). But put it on your schedule. You will not regret it. I promise. Bluebells, Columbine, Wild Geraniums, and Marsh Marigolds. So gorgeous. The hunt may be a great opportunity to grow in your budding photography hobby while also breaking in your new hiking boots and celebrating Minnesota’s natural beauty. [Stinking cute photos of you and/or the kiddos, too, if they can tackle a short hike. For my adventure, I was referencing a book on Gentle Hikes–between one mile and three miles long– along the Northshore. The sights were phenomenal. Suggestions include Bardon Peak in the Duluth area if you want easy access to Trillium and Marsh Marigold (I also found some mini-agates along the roadway hiking up the hill), an obscure outcropping along the Superior Hiking trail if you wish to see Bluebells and Columbine–goodness knows I don’t think I could find it on a map if I tried. It was somewhere in the middle-ish. Up the shore, if you’re game for a challenge. Otherwise, the Oberg Mountain Loop has Columbine, too, as well as a great overlook of Lake Superior and memorable views of a secret peekaboo lake. As for Wild Geraniums, I think they were actually fairly common in a number of different park-systems, if I am recalling correctly…]
The bottomline is, this month the sky is the limit! Enjoy celebrating Earth Month, Garden Month, and Native Plant Month! Have fun with it!
Now, I’m off to go tackle a little buckthorn problem…