Nature—the sublime, the harsh, and the beautiful—offers something that the street or gated community or computer game cannot. Nature presents the young with something so much greater than they are; it offers an environment where they can easily contemplate infinity and eternity.
Trees are not only an invaluable asset on our streets and in our neighborhoods, they are one of the most visible aspects of nature in the city. They clean the air we breathe, reduce stress, provide shade, host birds and squirrels, and are beautiful.
One of the things that makes poison ivy so hard to avoid is that its appearance can vary quite a bit. But "leaves of three, let it be" encompasses many perfectly harmless plants as well as the evil weed. Here's a cute, interactive poison ivy quiz—try it even if you think you know poison ivy. Even I got one wrong! You may learn to identify some other common wild plants while you're at it.
Weeds: In Defense of Nature's Most Unloved Plants is a really interesting book, both fact-filled and thought-provoking.
At the zoo yesterday I noticed these mud wasp nests built into the lettering on the facade of the "Animals in our Lives" building. Celebrate Urban Birds has a Funky Nests in Funky Places photo sharing page, but I don't know of anything like that for insects.
There's a nifty interactive map of New York City's waterfront in, of all places, Conde Nast Traveler. Click on the cute icons to explore a variety of attractions and activities from water sports to picnic spots to movies.
There's a very good blog post over at Children and Nature Network on the benefits of trees in urban environments. I especially love this quote: "You might not think there is nature in your midst. I’ve noticed that, as a society, we perceive nature to be “out there” rather than here where we raise our families and run our businesses. We think of it as a place we have to “go to” for a getaway.
It's May and that means flowers—the 6th annual NYC Wildflower Week is here. This year, they're expanding their programming to all of NYC's nature, including salamanders, birds, and mushrooms along with our native wildﬂowers.
Events range from botanical walks and garden tours throughout the five boroughs to children's activities. See the full schedule of events here.
This year's City of Water Day will be held on Saturday, July 20th. We've had great fun at this event in past years.
Presented by the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance, this will be the sixth annual festival, a day of free entertainment, education, and activities that celebrates the potential of New York City's waterfront. The events will take place on Governors Island and in Liberty State Park.
The Prospect Park Audubon Center has some fun family activities to celebrate Earth Day this Sunday.
From 1-4 PM there will be presentations by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation on responsible fishing, discover tours, lakeshore clean-up, live bird and animal encounters, recycled instrument making, and a performance and parade by Bash the Trash.
If you have old outdoor gear that's still in usable condition, the Sierra Club is accepting donations through the end of this month. Through a partnership with eBay and the Sierra Club Foundation, the proceeds will support local Sierra Club Chapters.