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
Greetings Local Ecology Enthusiasts!
We are now in the lunar cycle known as Okonokistsi Otsitsi’tsspi or “When the Saskatoons Ripen” in the Blackfoot lunar calendar. Though around here the Saskatoons tend to be already withering around this time of year. Perhaps the explanation lies in the fact we are at the northern extremity of traditional Blackfoot Territory, so the Saskatoons bloom and ripen earlier because the growing season is shorter than it would be in more central regions of Blackfoot Territory.
A few things I’ve noticed happening in this lunar cycle at my site over the past three years include:
The river level begins to go down, exposing some rocky shoreline and some silty beach regions. In these areas, I notice a lot of tiger beetle activity, crayfish exoskeletons, and flat cakes of what looks to me like some kind of sediment – perhaps deposited by the river when it was covering these areas during the previous lunar cycle. The saskatoons are beginning to shrivel, but the red willow berries are ripe and beginning to be fed upon by various birds and animals which I haven’t learned the specific identities of yet. I begin to see more road dusters and other grasshoppers around, and I’ve seen police car moths at the beginning of this lunar cycle for three years in a row now. Many asters are in bloom, including tufted white prairie aster, lindley’s aster, and goldenrod. Mallard hens are taking their ducklings farther out onto the river.
Well, those are a few things I’ve been able to learn about what happens around here this lunar cycle.
Happy Nature Watching,