Sunday, May 26, 2024

News and Ideas Worth Sharing

Judy Isacoff

Writer, naturalist, educator, and garden designer Judy Isacoff has published in regional monthlies, weeklies and dailies as well as professional journals in the field of environmental education. She is a columnist for the Battery Park City, New York Broadsheet Daily and The Broadsheet, and for five years contributed a weekly astronomy column to The Berkshire Eagle. A leader in nature study and curriculum-based gardening at schools in urban and rural settings, Isacoff is passionate about cultivating the sense of wonder through her teaching and writing. Her website:

written articles

NATURE’S TURN: Re-awakening wonder, instinct to protect the natural world

When I first studied wild foods, I was introduced to a skunk cabbage legend about John Cage, the composer, who had lived in a nearby town.

EYES TO THE SKY: Planet Jupiter, winter stars setting. Eclipse reflection

It was an afternoon like no other: High in the blue sky, the dark sphere of Moon slowly rolled into and over the round, golden Sun.

EYES TO THE SKY: Great North American Eclipse, April 8, 2024 (Part Two — Special Edition)

On eclipse day, from 2 to 4 p.m., Great Barrington’s Mason Public Library is hosting amateur astronomer Rick Costello, four telescopes with shielded optics in tow.

NATURE’S TURN: Power plants generate biodiversity

As the growing season begins, let’s bring the energy of keystone plants (AKA power plants) to our roadsides, yards, and gardens.

EYES TO THE SKY: Great North American Eclipse, April 8, 2024 (Part One)

"A total eclipse of the sun is the most spectacular, awe-inspiring sight in all of nature. Once seen, it can never be forgotten." — Fred Espenek, NASA’s “Mr. Eclipse”

NATURE’S TURN: Think like a mountain — Aldo Leopold Week, March 1–8

When I went back to Leopold’s “Thinking Like A Mountain” essay in his book “A Sand County Almanac,” published in 1949, I felt that his experiences, expressed here, quicken one’s own responses to wildlife and wild lands.

EYES TO THE SKY: Glorious starry nights

I am reminded of astronaut Chris Hatfield’s statements about his spacewalk experience from the International Space Station: “I was attacked by raw beauty. It was stupefying. It stops your thoughts … The power of the presence of the world as told to me by my ability to see it.”

NATURE’S TURN: Thinking like a mountain, the Town of Mount Washington launches Landscape and Forest Stewardship initiative

When I came to live in Mount Washington in the 1990s, I was introduced to the Taconic Plateau and the Town of Mount Washington as one of “Earth’s Last Great Places,” a Nature Conservancy (TNC) program that measured and recognized ecological health—biodiversity being a prime indicator.

NATURE’S TURN: Power plants of the northeastern ecoregion

When many of us sow at least one keystone perennial herbaceous plant, shrub, or tree in the environs of our home, we will be creating biodiversity-rich corridors.

EYES TO THE SKY: Short day Sun, Long Night Moon

Derived from the Latin "sol" ("sun") and "sistere" ("to stand still"), the Sun seems to stand still at its rising and setting locations for several days on either side of the exact moment of solstice.

NATURE’S TURN: My neighbor and I grow the ‘Homegrown National Park’ for pollinators

“How surprised I was to discover the flowers,” neighbor Judy exclaimed about seeing the creeping bellflowers (Campanula rapunculoides) for the first time in early summer. “Every single day something wonderful popped up that I didn’t expect. I found my curiosity reawakened. Less mow, more fun watching what pops up. I’m 100 percent in on decreasing the size of my lawn.”

EYES TO THE SKY: Orion the Hunter and a tale of two suns

The seventh brightest star in northern skies and one of the furthest stars visible with the naked eye, Betelgeuse meets our eyes inspiring wonder—and motivation—of gigantic proportions in the months ahead.

NATURE’S TURN: Boundless beauty, pressing responsibility

Even amidst the wild beauty of our landscape, and the beauty of planting gardens of any size, and preparing wonderful edibles in the kitchen, the challenges of climate change to life on Earth are all too evident. For one, frost has arrived one month later than the 20th-century norm.

EYES TO THE SKY: Hunter’s Moon lights the way, with planet Jupiter, tonight ‘til Halloween — teachable moments

Halloween is an astronomical holiday, a cross-quarter day recognized since ancient times, the name having roots in the autumn celebration of All Hallows’ Eve and All Hallows’ or All Saints Day.

NATURE’S TURN: Late-season, extra-long-season native flowers and botanical curiosities

I experienced the rigor and delight in learning to identify asters and goldenrods in a recent field workshop led by botanist Ted Elliman at Jug End Reservation in South Egremont.

The Edge Is Free To Read.

But Not To Produce.