Join Nathan Binnema, Secretary on our Board of Directors and longtime volunteer with the Edmonton Permaculture Guild, as he shares his practice of Phenological Engagement with this ongoing blog series.
Phenological Engagement is the practice of learning one’s local ecology through visiting the same site regularly throughout the year, getting to know who’s living there and the significant events of their lives in reference to both solar and lunar time. I’ve been engaged in the practice here in Edmonton for three years, beginning with a year of study in Blackfoot Phenology with Ryan Heavy Head, now Ryan First Diver. I’ve learned enough now to begin sharing some of the regular events I’ve noticed at my site, Forest Heights Park, for each lunar cycle
We are now entering the lunar cycle known as Awakasiki’somm, or the Deer Moon, in the Blackfoot lunar calendar. I understand that the name is a reference to the deer’s mating season. This is the last lunar cycle of summer and corresponds to what we might in Edmonton think of as fall.
For one reason or another, I haven’t taken as many notes as I normally do this lunar cycle over the past three years. A few high-level events include the turning colour of leaves, for plants that turn colour later, such as chokecherry, and willow. Most trees will lose their leaves this lunar cycle as well.
I’ve seen gulls congregate on the river, and male mallards rejoin the hens. Both bird species are preparing to migrate, I imagine, though they don’t actually leave until later. I have seen piles of twigs and small branches, collected by someone, my best guess would be a beaver. I also see papery wasp nest remains appear on the forest floor, likely the abandoned nests of bald-faced hornets or yellow jackets.
Many sparrows and other songbirds are still around, and this can be a good time of year to watch for them, as the leaves begin to thin out, and they are not raising young any more.
Bulberry, or Canada Buffaloberry and buckbrush berries ripen, and the seeds heads of many of the grasses have been eaten (or at least removed from their stems).
Enjoy the remainder of the summer!