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From the announcement about this public event:

What Makes a Life Significant? A panel discussion in memory of William James
Monday, April 26th, 2010; reception at 5 pm, discussion 6 – 7:30 pm
CGIS South Concourse and Tsai Auditorium

A little over a century ago, the Harvard psychologist and philosopher William James gave a public lecture entitled “What Makes a Life Significant?” In honor of the hundredth anniversary of his death and to celebrate his enduring influence, we have invited a panel of distinguished scholars to revisit the question posed in that lecture from a range of historical and contemporary starting points. What do we, in the 21st century, think “makes a life significant”? What can the academy contribute to an exploration of that question?

James Kloppenberg (Charles Warren Professor of American History) will introduce and moderate a star-studded panel that includes philosopher Sissela Bok (Senior Visiting Fellow, Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies), Louis Menand (Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of English), and Cornel West (Class of 1943 University Professor at Princeton).

The panel will begin at 6:00 pm, but we invite you to join us at 5:00 pm for an “afternoon tea” reception and an opportunity to view an exhibition of rare materials from Harvard’s Houghton Library and Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments.

Venue: Harvard’s Center for Government and International Studies (CGIS) South Building, lower level (1730 Cambridge St, Cambridge MA); the reception will be held in the Concourse, and the panel discussion will take place in the Tsai Auditorium.

This has some promise to be an interesting and lively panel discussion. It is an unusual but neat way to highlight the century mark of William James ‘ passing.

Bellevue Pond Walk

Are you enjoying spring yet? It has been a bit soggy but that will hopefully straighten itself out sometime soon.

An early spring walk, in the Middlesex Fells Reservation, will take place on Wednesday April 7, 2010. The adventure begins at 9:15 and runs until 11:30. The spring walk is being led by the excellent hike leader Boot Boutwell.

The walkers should meet at the Bellevue Pond parking lot on South Border Road in Medford. If there is a steady rain the walk will be cancelled.

Where our Food Comes From: The Origins of Agriculture

Bruce Smith (Smithsonian) and Michele Holbrook (Harvard)

RESCHEDULED  – now will be held Thursday Feb. 18 –  6:00 PM – Geo Lecture Hall, Harvard University

Free public lecture.

The transition from hunting and gathering to food production  represents a seismic shift in human history.  With it, we transformed the world. But how and when did this happen, and why is this important to understanding our current human condition?   Dr. Bruce Smith, Curator of North American Archaeology at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, will discuss his current research on agricultural origins – and how the story is more complicated than you’d expect.    Followed by a discussion moderated by Noel Michele Holbrook, Professor of Biology and Charles Bullard Professor of Forestry at Harvard.

Reception to follow in the HMNH galleries.

This lecture is the second in the “Food for Thought”  lecture series that explores the past, present, and future of our relationship to food and food production. The third and final program will be held on Feb. 23, “From Cooking Food to Cooking the Planet:  Growing Constraints to Food Production” with Samuel Myers.

Presented by Harvard Museum of Natural History
26 Oxford Street
Cambridge MA 02139


Moving Forward

I am taking steps towards building this blog out to include a nature guide to natural New England (Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island). A few nights ago I entered information about Mammals, Salamanders and a Newt, Frogs and Toads, Turtles and Snakes and a Skink.

These pages currently provide a list of known species. My goal is to build this out to include some state specific keys, species pages that include a bunch of relevant information (distribution, natural history, etc.). I think it would be good to have a New England naturalist guide for New England on the web. And have it be done well enough that it is something even I like.

I am pleased that I at least got up the pages that I did. I do not think I will list the birds as I would hope I can find another site that has already done this. It will also be interesting to see how I can deal with the plants. Now that will be a real challenge!

Oct 16, 2009 Menotomy Bird Club Talk

The Menotomy Bird Club is hosting a talk by Peter Alden titled “The Wonderful Birds of Western Mexico.” The event will be held at the Fox Library (175 Massachusetts Avenue, Arlington) at 7:30 P.M.

Peter is a fascinating and entertaining speaker and a top notch birder. He visited and led nature walks to Mexico for a number of years when he attended the University of Arizona, and recently revisited some old and new places. His talk will discuss what he found and likely will contain his usual insightful observations and commentary about his travels.

A Day to Pitch In

National Public Lands Day, an annual event, will be held on September 26 in 2009. The day is a way to raise attention for our public spaces. Many of the events involve projects for volunteers to help get things done on public properties. These chores include things like cleaning up trash, fixing trails and removing invasive plants. There are also educational events.

This is the 16th year of the program and last year there were over 100,00o participants.

Here is the current list of Massachusetts’ 17 participant public lands:

Barre Falls Dam – Lawn maintenance, rake picnic pads, stain picnic tables, trash removal, plantings, disc golf course maintenance.
Contact: Delia Vogel, (978) 318-8263, www.nae.usace.army.mil/recreati/bfd/bfdhome.htm
Location: 200 Coldbrook Road | Hubbardston, Massachusetts 01366

Boston Harbor Islands National Recreaction Area – 2nd Annual COASTSWEEP at Boston Harbor Islands National Park, as part of the International Coastal Cleanup organized by The Ocean Conservancy in Washington, DC. Participants at Boston Harbor Islands will collect marine debris from several islands’ beaches and record the types of trash they collect. This information is then used to help reduce future marine debris problems. Registration and additional details are available by calling (617)223-8637.
Contact: Mary Raczko, NPS, (617) 223-8637, www.bostonharborislands.org
Location: 408 Atlantic Avenue | Boston, Massachusetts 02110
Alternative Date: 2009-09-23

Boston Nature Center – This event will be an interactive educational event for youth of all ages. Local, state and federal land management agencies will provide games, activities and information. Join us from 1 to 4 PM at the Boston Nature Center.
Contact: Jessie Scott, USFS, 617-626-4979, www.massaudubon.org/boston
Location: 500 Walk Hill Street | Mattapan, Massachusetts 02126
Alternative Date: 2009-11-30

Buffumville Lake and Hodges Village Dam – Snag Pulling & Clean French River by Canoe, renovating hiking/,mountain bike trails, landscape improvements, beautify park, bridge work, disc golf upkeep (multi-projects), trash clean-up, painting gates, and boat ramp improvement.
Contact: Jamie Kordack, US Army Corps of Engineers, (508) 248-5697, www.nae.usace.army.mil/recreati/bvl/bvlhome.htm
Location: 48 Old Oxford Road | Charlton, Massachusetts 01507

Cape Cod National Seashore – Each year, Friends of the Cape Cod National Seashore partners with the National Park Service to sponsor a volunteer project on National Public Lands Day. This year, volunteers will establish a native plant garden at Cape Cod National Seashore Headquarters. Utilizing a landscaping plan designed by the seashore’s Chief of Facilities and Maintenance (a landscape architect by training), volunteers will plant native shrubs and trees to beautify the area and to convey to visitors the importance of landscaping with native plants suited to local environmental conditions. On the eve of Ken Burns’ PBS special, “National Parks, America’s Best Idea,” this project, and others happening around the country, provide a great opportunity for citizens to become engaged with their nearby national park sites. The project will be held from 9 AM to noon on September 26 at seashore headquarters, 99 Marconi Site, Wellfleet, MA. Potential volunteers should register by contacting the Friends at volunteer@fccns.org. Volunteers are asked to bring gardening or work gloves, a favorite gardening tool (trowel, small spade, etc), water, and a kneeling cushion, if desired. For more information about Friends of the Cape Cod National Seashore, visit www.fccns.org
Contact: Sue Moynihan, Volunteer Coordinator, NPS, 508-771-2144, www.nps.gov/caco
Location: 99 Marconi Site Road | Wellfleet, Massachusetts 02667

Charles River Parklands – Efforts will focus on removing invasive species and opening shoreline vistas along the urban Charles River Parklands in Cambridge. Incorporated into the day is an educational component discussing invasive species, riparian ecology, and Charles River history.
Contact: John Broderick, Charles River Conservancy, (617) 300-8173, www.thecharles.org
Location: Charles River Parklands | Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138

East Brimfield & Westville Lake – Trail repair and improvement, park clean up, plant trees, and install two benches.
Contact: Thomas Chamberland, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, (508) 347-3705, www.nae.usace.army.mil/recreati/wvl/wvlhome.htm
Location: 88 Wallace Rd | Sturbridge, Massachusetts 01566

Franklin State Forest – Brush back the Southern New England Rail Trail.
Contact: Ron Clough, MA Dept. of Conservation & Recreation, (508) 543-9084, www.mass.gov/dcr
Location: Grove Street | Franklin, Massachusetts 02038
Alternative Date: 2009-09-25

Lowell National Historical Park – Travel to sites around the city to do clean-ups, clear brush and fall plantings.
Deb Harding may be emailed at deborah_harding@nps.gov.
Contact: Sheila Carman or Deb Harding, NPS, (978) 275-1888, www.nps.gov/lowe
Location: 220 Aiken St. | Lowell, Massachusetts 01852

Minute Man National Historical Park – Battle Road Homes – Open House 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. – Today’s event offers a rare opportunity to see inside the restored colonial homes along the Battle Road in the park. Visit the Meriam House, Sam Brooks House, Noah Brooks Tavern, Job Brooks House, Capt. William Smith House and the Jacob Whittemore House to experience different trades, talents and tales of the colonial period including leather work, music, agriculture and archaeology. In addition, there will be no admission fee for guided tours of The Wayside: Home of Authors.
Contact: Maria Cole, NPS, (978) 318-7826, www.nps.gov/mima
Location: Minute Man NHP | Concord, Massachusetts 01742

Mount Greylock State Reservation – Invasive Garlic Mustard control and trail work.
Contact: Alec Gillman, MA Dept. of Conservation & Recreation, (413) 499-4262, www.mass.gov/dcr/parks/mtGreylock/
Location: 30 Rockwell Road | Lanesborough, Massachusetts 01237
Alternative Date: 1999-11-30

Myles Standish State Forest – Free community fishing event celebrates the MSSF. Volunteers teach others about the globally rare pitch pine forest, how to fish humanely and how to protect our natural resources. Some volunteers lead hikes and conduct trail maintenance projects.
Contact: Sharl Heller, Friends of Myles Standish State Forest & Mass DCR, (508) 591-7533, www.friendsmssf.com
Location: Fearing Pond | Plymouth, Massachusetts 02360

O’Bryant School of Math & Science – Water quality testing.
Suzy Drurey, Boston Public Schools, www.obryant.us
Location: | Roxbury, Massachusetts 02120

Salisbury Beach State Reservation – Beach clean up in conjunction with coastsweeps.
Contact: Mike Magnifico, Mass DCR, (978) 462-4481
Location: Reservation Road | Salisbury, Massachusetts 01952

Sturbridge Heins Farm – Trail clearing, maintenance and construction.
Contact: Randy Redetzke, Town of Sturbridge Trails Committee, (508) 347-6340, www.town.sturbridge.ma.us
Location: 197 Leadmine Rd | Sturbridge, Massachusetts 01518

Waquoit Bay Reserve-Washburn Island – Beach clean-up along the shores of Washburn Island, a 330 acre barrier island located in Waquoit Bay. Citizen’s For the Protection of Waquoit Bay organize the event and transportation to the island.
Contact: Nancy Church, Waquoit Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, (508) 457-0495, www.waquoitbayreserve.org
Location: 149 Waquoit Highway | Waquoit, Massachusetts 02536
Alternative Date: 2009-09-12

West Hill Dam – Trail improvement; aesthetic improvement to entrance/trail areas; repair beach glider and youth swing; Scout camping area improvement; build Canadian goose barrier; beach water quality improvement; and canoe/kayak trail improvement.
Contact: Viola Bramel, US Army Corps of Engineers, (978) 318-8417, www.nae.usace.army.mil/recreati/whd/whdhome.htm
Location: 518 East Hartford Avenue | Uxbridge, Massachusetts 01569
Alternative Date: 2009-09-19

You can learn more about the events, locally and nationally at this website.

A Bobcat in Medford

The Middlesex Fells were created to be, and are serving as, a refuge for us and for the many native species that once thrived in the greatly reduced natural habitats found in its environs. It is not surprising to find what are now unusual species in the Fells. Unusual in the sense of being native to the area but that are not typically seen in our more landscaped and disturbed suburbs. These sightings of organisms that are otherwise rarely seen are one of the many things that make Middlesex Fells a special place. This summer there was a really rare and unusual sighting that took place here. A bobcat.

Bobcats are not often seen nor are they likely to be living in most places around the northwestern suburbs of Boston. This animal was both spotted and photographed by George McLean in July of 2009. It was a juvenile cat and was present in the woods around the Brooks Estate. As quickly as it was spotted it was gone.

These cats are not a rarity in the state but are unusual for the eastern areas, especially so close to Boston. The Fells do offer some great habitat for Bobcats and since they tend to be secretive animals. This sighting opens up the possibility that there is an established population of bobcats in the park.

You can read more about the sighting from this Boston Globe story.

Middlesex Fells Wildflowers Walk

There will be a nature walk in the Middlesex Fells on September 21, from 9:15 to 11:30. The focus will be the fall flowers that can be found around the Bellevue Pond area. The walk will be lead by the every interesting and full of information Boot Boutwell.
The walk is free. Meet at the Bellevue Pond Parking lot off of South Border Road in Medford.
In the case of heavy rain the walk will be cancelled.

Getting back to it…

The latest and greatest from Floodline Farm.

We are in limbo at this point with the site. What should we be doing here until the site gets rebuilt? Well, how about this:

I like listening to music and I recently had to buy a new pair or earphones. you should check out these sites if you are in the market for earbuds yourself. By reading what was on these sites I was able to begin to make some sense of the choices I had in what to buy. Check out noise cancelling earphones or if you want to get rid of the cords, try to find a nice pair of wireless earphones. I have bought so many earphones in my day. I just can’t seem to keep a set for any length of time. It is good in some ways that they are flimsy because I have wrapped the cord around my neck a few times, had them catch on something, and snap off while giving me a good burn across my neck. If the cords of the earphones did not break it would have been a lot more trouble for me. Anyway now I use wireless so I don’t have that problem as much.

Enough for now though. Hopefully I can get to work on this site sometime soon!