Welcome to the longest day of the year. Many people celebrate this day, including me, as we have the most hours of sunlight to be outside enjoying nature, walking trails, observing wildlife, and enjoying time with friends and family. It also ignites the start of other “summer things” like eating fresh tomatoes and peaches, watching for baby birds as they fledge from their nests, and enjoying the late blooming flowers from my garden. In Sweden, people celebrate summer solstice by eating the first strawberries of the season.
Summer solstice also reminds me of nature’s seasonal cycles and excites me for what’s to come. The study of these seasonal cycles, phenology, is used by the League in our science and education programs. Through our >redwood phenology project, we know that now is the time when we see only leaves on our trillium plants and new leaves forming on the bay laurel trees. With adult and student volunteers, we collect data on these plants throughout the year to monitor seasonal changes.
Additionally, we are actively watching the fiddleheads on sword fern plants to know when to begin our Fern Watch season. Fern Watch monitors sword ferns throughout the redwood range to see how these plants are changing their growth patterns due to changes in the climate. Our Fern Watch season begins once the new fiddleheads have fully emerged and these new leaves are ready to be measured. In order to do this, we rely on community scientists, to help inform us of when it’s time to get out our clipboards and measuring tapes and head into the field.
Whatever you decide to do this summer, I hope you find yourself enjoying the long hours of sun, observing nature’s cycles and maybe checking out a fern or two in our redwood forests.