Happy Spring Equinox! After a brief moment of nearly equal day and night, the sun crosses the celestial equator as it moves north along our ecliptic, and Earth’s northern and southern hemispheres are evenly illuminated. Persians celebrate New Year or Nowruz, and in the north we mark the longer days and the sun’s warming of the soil in preparation for planting.
Past equinox posts of mine focus on the sweet tension between repetition and change that comes with the cycles of nature and its seasons of new growth. But at a time when science itself is threatened, I want to venture away from the great comfort I take from those cycles. It seems even more crucial to address species that may escape our attention.
I recently became involved with a research project monitoring amphibian life at the nearby Pepperwood Preserve. There are many such opportunities for citizen scientists.
Here, some of our most fragile yet perseverant denizens such as California newts gestate in vernal pools, somehow weathering drought, pollution, and predators.
Frogs, like these Sierran tree frogs, are like canaries in the coal mine, breathing (and thereby also absorbing any toxins or pollutants in the environment) through their skin.
Other species found include the California slender salamander, Western fence lizard, Western blue-tailed skink, Southern alligator lizard, and the beautiful Ringneck snake. These animals remind us of our role and responsibility to maintain the delicate balance of the great web of which we are a part. We are not alone in our ecosystem.