Monday, April 5, 2021

Celebrating Mud

 Guest Post by Julie Hoel, KVR Instructor and Enthusiastic Mud Loving Grandparent

I was just out of college and visiting a friend who had three children. We were chatting when her five-year-old son came bursting in the door full of boyish exuberance and covered with splotches of mud from head to foot. She took one look at him, put on her sternest mom face, whipped out her you’re-in-big-trouble-now voice and said, “JAY MEYER, HAVE YOU BEEN PLAYING IN THAT CREEK?” The smile fell from his face, he rolled his big brown eyes upward and said, “No.” The two older sisters and I tried our best contain our laughter as his mom began peeling off the muddy clothes and throwing them directly into the washer. To her credit, she did not shame him for being a muddy mess but continued with her harangue, “You know you’re not supposed to be playing in that creek!” Clearly, her concern was the danger of water play rather than dirty clothes. 

In these parts, we cannot escape the mud of the March thaw and April showers that follow. We can save ourselves irritation and frustration by just embracing and celebrating the wonders of mud. In that spirit, I would like to share my favorite holiday photo of all time. It was refreshingly different from the typical family photo of the kids clean and pressed. These parents were secure enough to celebrate their kids in all their mischievous muddiness in the deep green of a summer day.  When I recently asked their dad if I could share this image, he said, you’re “welcome to use that pic if it’s to promote kids being kids!” He added, “I think based on where we lived our kids naturally got real dirty experiencing being a kid in nature. We had 50 acres and a half mile of river frontage…what a place to be a kid!” He pointed out the nice clean laundry hanging on the line behind them. I also noticed that they are both wearing glasses that somehow remained relatively clear. Definitely experienced mudballs with some self-control!

In these two vignettes, the children sought and located the mud on their own. A quick google search will bring up many benefits of mud play including development of fine and gross motor skills, increasing cognitive skills and enhancing creativity. It also is good for the immune system and decreases stress levels. We would therefore be wise and wonderful caretakers to seek out opportunities for our children’s mud exploration. My favorite resource, Pinterest, has limitless schemes to bring mud play to every location. There are recipes for mud paint, fizzing mud and mud soup. The design suggestions for mud kitchens are endless.

But the fun of mud play is not just for children. Back in ’93, I experienced mud as art with adults during a volunteer week at Dr. Patch Adams’ Gesundheit! Institute in West Virginia. His model of good health includes humor and art as healing. Once a week, volunteers were encouraged to experience community in the mud pit. After the mud bath, there were photo sessions of numerous statuesque poses. It was a truly memorable experience!

So when you encounter the inevitable mud of the season, I encourage you remember your own fondest muddy memory and smile.  And if a mud-covered child comes bursting in your doorway, greet them with that smile and make throwing those dirty clothes into the washer a celebration.

P.S. All the above references to mud exclude flood mud.  That nasty stuff is a nightmare.

For some more muddy inspiration, check out these books and links:


 Mud by Mary Lyn Ray, Illustrated by Lauren Stringer

This beautiful book celebrates the beginning of the mud season in simple text and gorgeous illustrations. 






Mudplay for Kids: Why It's Worth the Mess - Healthline This article provides details about why messy play is so beneficial for children.

Mud, Marvelous Mud - Community Playthings With the benefits clearly outlined, this article provides ideas and considerations for embracing mud play with your child.

Monday, March 22, 2021

Spring Migration is Upon Us

 Guest Post by Barbara Duerksen

What a delight to welcome back the birds we have not seen for months! There’s music in the air – honking geese and calling swans flying to the northwest, robins, blackbirds, and cardinals singing in the morning, and the loud, rattling bugle calls of Sandhill Cranes.

Sandhill Crane photo by Dave Franks

When the ice goes out, the ducks come in. They might stay for a day, sometimes longer, as they make their journey from the southern states to their nesting territories.  A few of the duck species like Wood Ducks, Blue-winged Teal, and Mallards, stay in our area to raise their broods, while most of the other ducks head for farther north wetlands.  I find Hooded Mergansers particularly elegant and fun to watch. The males are black on top with white stripes in front and back, brown sides, and a black and white head that looks very large when the crest feathers are raised.  Females are brown and also have crest feathers that can be raised or lowered.  They look a little less elegant and more like a bad hair day.  I have found Hooded Mergansers in the Kickapoo Valley Reserve in early spring swimming in the wooded wetland at the junction of Hwy 131 and County P.

Hooded Merganser photo by Jack Bartholmai

Migration is all about food.  Waterfowl need open water to find fish, snails, worms, roots and other plant food.  Insect eaters need warm enough temperatures to find a good steady supply of insects, and that takes them far south of Wisconsin.  Seed eaters and some of the predatory birds can find enough food to get through the winter season, so we’ll see jays, chickadees, cardinals, crows, Cooper’s and Red-tailed Hawks all winter.  Juncos, American Tree Sparrows, Purple Finches, Rough-legged Hawks, and Northern Shrikes are among the species that come from way north to stay here for the winter.  They will be leaving soon, and instead we’ll see Fox, White-throated, and White-crowned Sparrows on their way north, in addition to other early migrants like kinglets and phoebes.

April brings some notable insect eaters, despite the possibility of cold weather and snowstorms. Hermit Thrushes, Yellow-rumped Warblers, and Winter Wrens are all insect eaters that seem to be able to withstand colder temperatures than others of their kind.  Their diets ae a bit more flexible –they prefer insects, but all three are able to digest fruits like juniper berries.  Cold spells with deep snow that last too long can be life-threatening to these birds, as we witnessed with in April, 2018.

Winter Wren photo by Dan Jackson

Winter Wrens are small brown birds with very short tails that they often hold upright.  They are smaller than the more familiar House Wrens that spend their summers here, and most of them fly farther north to the forests of northern Wisconsin and Canada. Winter Wrens have nested in cool microclimates in the Kickapoo Reserve and the Baraboo Hills, preferring areas with coarse woody debris or tangled roots. Some older field guides recommend looking for migrating Winter Wrens in stacks of firewood in the yard. On nesting territory, the male sings a loud, rich, lengthy, bubbly song.  You can listen to the song here by pressing the audio button.

The colorful familiar songsters like grosbeaks, orioles, and Indigo Buntings, will show up a bit later, some in late April and the rest in May, along with many migrating warblers. These are the long-distance migrants that spend the winter in warmer climates, some—Yellow Warblers and Barn Swallows, for example—as far south as countries in South America.

Migration is a perilous journey with hazards that range from bad weather and natural predators, to human-caused habitat destruction, window strikes, poisoning by pesticides, and predation by cats. How to help?  Study up on what birds need, support bird conservation groups and reserves (like the KVR), consider planting bird-friendly plants and trees in your yard.  The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has a list of suggestions here: athttps://www.birds.cornell.edu/home/seven-simple-actions-to-help-birds/

                                            American Woodcock photo by Jack Bartholmai

Ready for an evening adventure?  Go out at dusk to listen for the American Woodcock call and sky dance.  American Woodcocks are in the shorebird family, but nest on the ground in shrubby woodland edges. An odd-looking short-tailed brown bird, they are about robin-size, plump, with long beaks and eyes positioned high up and near the back of the skull. In early spring, the males, looking to attract a mate, find an open area to sit and call a series of single buzzy, nasal “peent” sounds, and after a while, fly up with a twittering sound in a large circle, descend to the same area with a slower chirpy sound, and start again to do the call. This occurs about 20 minutes after sunset. The open area around the Kickapoo Reserve Visitor Center has been a reliable spot to observe this spring ritual of the woodcock. 

For great reading on the woodcock dance check out these favorites:

Aldo Leopold, in A Sand County Almanac, describes the Sky Dance of the woodcocks on his farm in the April section of Part 1.  Frances Hamerstrom, in Walk When the Moon is Full, devotes her April chapter to the story of gong out with her two children to witness the sky dance of the woodcock.

Monday, March 8, 2021

Looking for Spring

  C. Chybowski

A guest post by KVR Educator Cathy Chybowski

Spring is in the air!  Even if the calendar says “March,” the cold winds blow, and the snow lingers, those of us tuned in to the changing seasons know that spring is fast approaching. By observing and recording natural events year after year, we can accurately predict and anticipate the sequence in which these events occur. 

The study of recurring natural events like the migration of birds or the flowering of plants and their connection with each other as the seasons change is called phenology.

Everyone practices phenology whether they realize it or not—naturalists, gardeners, farmers, and homeowners, among others. “April showers bring May flowers” is pure phenology.

Islay Pictures Photoblog

What tells you that spring has arrived? Is it the first robin of the year? Like Aldo Leopold, many people sense that spring has sprung when they see and hear a flock of geese flying in the typical V-formation proclaiming the change of season. 

 “One swallow does not make a summer, but one skein of geese, cleaving the murk of a March thaw, is the spring.”          

Leopold continues .  .  .  .  “A cardinal whistling spring to a thaw but later finding himself mistaken, can retrieve his error by resuming his winter silence. A chipmunk, emerging for a sunbath but finding a blizzard, has only to go back to bed.  But a migrating goose, staking two hundred miles of black night on the chance of finding a hole in the lake, has no easy chance for retreat. His arrival carries the conviction of a prophet who has burned his bridges.”

     Greg Gillson

 Sid Hamm

It is time to check last year’s phenology records for the order of events. We can predict that in southern Wisconsin, the red-winged blackbirds return to the marshes before the end of February and the bluebirds return to nest by March 15. The wood frogs begin their choral courtship the third week in March and ground squirrels and woodchucks emerge sleepy from hibernation by the end of March.  Hepatica begins to bloom around mid-April  and bloodroot blooms about one week later.

                                                                                                                                     awaytothgarden.com
                 C. Chybowski

Nature’s grand production runs from the time that skunk cabbage pokes up through the snow, through the time when the woodpeckers begin to drum, male red-wings “onk-la-ree” from the cattails and pussy willows fluff out. Killdeer and meadowlarks return, chipmunks awaken from their winter dormancy, song sparrows sing “hip hip hooray guys, spring is here,” balls of garter snakes appear, painted turtles pop up on sunning logs, mourning cloak butterflies and little brown bats flit about, and spring ephemerals emerge from the woodland floor.

   V. Charney

All of these observations were made before April 15th.  Soon thereafter the great wave of warbler migration begins (about a month after the woodcocks begin their aerial courtship display). Then the tree leaves burst forth, flowers in gardens and fields bloom and the air holds the sweet scent of lilacs just in time for Mother’s Day. The show continues on and on . . .

“During every week from April to September there are on average, ten wild plants coming into first bloom. . . No man can heed all of these anniversaries; no man can ignore all of them.”                                                                                                                                                       -   Aldo Leopold

No two years are exactly the same and some signs of spring are more reliable than others. Frogs are good predictors of spring. Wood frogs and spring peepers begin to sing soon after ice-out when the water has warmed to 46 degrees F. Earthworm castings become visible when the frost has come out of the ground. The return of robins and bluebirds is not a reliable indicator of spring because some of them stay in our area throughout the winter.

                                         petponder.com
            
Spring usually invades our state in the southwest corner and marches north and northeast at a rate of about fifteen miles a day. This was determined when residents across the state were asked to record the date at which the lilac, a species familiar to everyone, was in peak flower.

According to Hopkin’s law, phenological events vary at the rate of one day for each fifteen minutes of latitude, 1.25 days for each degree of longitude, and one day for each one hundred feet of altitude, being later northward, eastward, and upward. When applied in Wisconsin, this law seems to hold almost exactly along a north-south axis; except that Lake Michigan retards the spring warmup.

Above is merely a sampling of the discoveries that await the curious nature observer. It is a fun time of year for each of us to get outside and take a closer look at what Aldo Leopold calls the “hundred little dramas” happening right outside the door when spring is in the air. 

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Celebrating Black History Month

The Learning Outside team honors Black adventurers, outdoor education advocates, and outdoor recreation enthusiasts in solidarity with Black History Month and Black Futures celebrations around the nation. Here in Wisconsin, several exciting adventures and initiatives are happening as we speak in our remarkable landscape.

First up, did you hear the buzz around Emily Wood, the first woman to thru-hike the Ice Age Trail in winter? This photo feature and article in the Capitol Times is fantastic. Follow Emily's hike virtually; she's @emilyontrail on Instagram. In an NBC 15 interview featuring this historic effort, Emily shared her thoughts about the "firsts" she is striving for and promoting equality:

“Many other people have completed this trail, but winter is the elusive season for most folks. So I’ll be the first woman, the first Black woman, and I’m sure the first Black gay woman. I’ll tack that one on there!”
She hopes to inspire more people in minority groups to get out and enjoy the outdoors. “The other reason why I’m out here is just to you know show people that if you look different or something is different about you, you can still do the thing that people don’t think you can do,” says Ford.
She says especially after the year our country just faced, she’d like to use her journey as a platform to promote equality. “2020 started happening and unfolding itself and with the murder of George Floyd over in Minnesota and other stuff happening in other states, I’m just like man there’s got to be a way that I also can get my voice out there too for people of color and just continue to equalize the boundaries,” says Ford.

For more news on people doing great work connecting with the outdoors, check out the Joy Trip Project. Founded by James Edward Mills, a faculty assistant at the University of Wisconsin Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, the Joy Trip project serves as a "newsgathering and reporting organization that covers outdoor recreation, environmental conservation, and acts of charitable giving and practices of sustainable living." Mills is author of The Adventure Gap: Changing the Face of the Outdoors. Last summer, a group of men embarked on an important trip to the Wisconsin Northwoods. Mills and Aaron Perry, one of the group's organizers, recently shared more about their experiences in an interview.

You should also check out Outdoor Afro, a nonprofit organization dedicated to connecting Black individuals with outdoor experiences. There's a Wisconsin and Iowa chapter connecting local folks with events and resources, and they have a Facebook community.

Wisconsin and the Midwest are full of great stories and exciting initiatives in Black lives in the outdoors. Additionally, read about ice climbers from Memphis, and youth from Atlanta heading to the mountains of Colorado.

Are you in the market for new outdoor gear as you contemplate the warming months ahead? While we can't stress enough the idea of finding secondhand gear and keeping it in use, consider Slim Pickens Outfitters, the nation's only Black-owned outdoor gear and apparel shop. Owner Jamicah Dawes is committed to sourcing sustainable brands and vintage gear and the mission of diversifying the outdoors.

Alexis Nikole Nelson aka The Black Forager on Instagram and Tik Tok has become popular for folks who are curious about understanding what's available to eat on the land around them. During the pandemic, Alexis became a popular follow for thousands of people new to foraging. Her songs and posts not only celebrate the plants and fungi of her Ohio neighborhood, but they help followers understand the historical challenges faced by Black and Indigenous people who have been systematically separated from the land and sourcing their own food. 

Speaking of history, spend some time learning more about the remarkable Betty Reid Soskin, who at 99 is the oldest National Park Ranger, and someone who has blazed many trails in her work and activism. Stationed at the Rosie the Riveter WWII Homefront park, Betty has spoken about the need for all Americans to understand our nation's complex history through experiences at all of our national parks and monuments, rural and urban, alike:

"We have created this system of national parks, where it's possible to revisit almost any era in our history. The heroic places, the scenic wonders, the contemplative places, the shameful places, and the painful places. In order to own that history. Own it, process it, that we may begin to forgive ourselves in order to move into a more compassionate future together." 

On a final note, we encourage you to continue to learn about the history and support present day adventures of Black individuals and groups getting outdoors as we work together to ensure equitable access and justice for people who have been historically denied rights, opportunities, and resources. This is imperative for our next generation, too. If you have a young reader in your life, consider finding the book, Where's Rodney, by Carmen Bogan, and illustrated by Floyd Cooper. While the publishing world is dominated by white writers and illustrators, this special book was created by two Black creatives who offer up the joy of a child's experience in the outdoors for all of us to celebrate.

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Summer Camp 2021


Was summer camp part of your experience growing up?  Do you have memories of the friends you made, the skills your learned, the food you ate?  Maybe as an adult you have perspective now on the personal growth that happened for you at summer camp? You aren't alone. So many of us had wonderful and affecting camp experiences in our youth, and now KVR works to provide those same experiences for the children in your life. Whether as the youngest of our day campers or the seasoned teens hitting the KVR trails for several nights, there is summer camp magic waiting for all.


Summer camp provides children with so many important experiences and skills. We sure missed it in 2020. Summer camp at the KVR in 2021 will look much the same as it always has. We'll play in the water, and in the mud; we'll take long hikes, see incredible landscapes, and spot wild animals; we'll teambuild together and laugh together. We'll scrape some knees and high-five each other. We'll build resilience and self-respect while getting dirty and wet. We'll learn responsibility, communication, and leadership skills. We'll make new friends and gain new perspectives, all while being nurtured by a community of caring adults who are skilled in experiential education.


Summer 2021 will also bring increased Covid-19 safety precautions, like spending even more time outside, using masks when in proximity of each other, and extra hand-washing, to name few. We are getting the hang of these new measures and we know that being outdoors is a low risk environment for transmission, so that makes camp this year an easier yes.


This year's KVR summer camp roster is as full as ever! We have many of the old favorites and lots of new camps as well. Check out our new two-day mountain bike camps, a new Artdoors camp for ages 11-14, and a fun-filled week of Junior Ranger Camp where children will get a sampling of many of the treasured KVR activities that make favorite memories.



Camp registration is now open. You can see the full 2021 camp roster and register here. For more information about the KVR summer camp program, visit the Kickapoo Valley Reserve website page. We hope to see old friends and new faces this year at summer camp! 




Tuesday, January 19, 2021

A Saunter for the Senses



A guest post by KVR Educator Chuck Hatfield.

It’s 3:30 PM as I stare out the window. The beautiful fairy-land of frost is gone, but the gray hills in the distance are robed in snow—warmed by the afternoon sun. I know these KVR hills.  They are miles away; steep and treacherous—covered in loose, new fallen snow and layers of slippery oak leaves. I used to be a hiker…no, John Muir disliked that word…I was instead a saunterer, one who “goes here and there” like a pilgrim in the “holy land.”  Then I had hip surgery, and my world got smaller. 

Recently I reread an article written 88 years ago this month by Helen Keller, a remarkable woman who was both blind and deaf. She wrote:

I asked a friend who had returned from a long walk in the woods, what she had observed. “Nothing in particular,” she replied.  How was it possible, I asked myself, to walk for an hour through the woods and see nothing worthy of note?

Healing, especially at my age, is frustratingly slow—bone and tissue first, with muscle and conditioning lagging, requiring a commitment to action. Snow shoveling was my commitment for the day. But I stare at a small notch of dark hemlocks, low on the hillside far away. I know that place! Its mysterious beauty, its haunting history, never fails to connect my soul to this amazing land. I am called...

In minutes I am following a wide, snowy trail, already packed by hundreds of boots. I turn off the main trail, finding my own path through the brush, now marked only by deer tracks.  It leads down into the steep valley where the ice-skirted Kickapoo River flows. As I cross the first small tributary, I stop to listen. The woods seem empty and I am expecting silence.  Not so. The wild cry of a pileated woodpecker echoes among the bluffs. A crow calls.  The river gurgles a response. Falling frost needles whisper past my ears.

I am now in a unique world where time has stood still—holding within it the spirit of the ice ages. When the last glacial ice sheet that surrounded the Driftless Area melted its way north, the sunny hillsides and ridges began a long transition to oak savanna prairies, mixed hardwood and pine forests.  But the steeply cut, moist, sandstone ravines—with cool, northern or eastern exposure—allowed a very special community of plants adapted to life on the edge of a frozen world to persist. 

Yellow Birch Bark
Blue Bead Lily

Partridge Berry



 
These microclimates contain the dark forests of hemlocks, interspersed with yellow birch, Canada yew, and eastern white pine, along with wintergreen, partridge berry, blue-bead lily, northern monkshood, and many other species that would normally be found hundreds of miles further north. 

In front of me a rocky, lichen-encrusted cliff thrusts itself into the river, seeming to block my passage beyond.  But I see that the deer tracks continue, and I know their secret.  A nearly invisible ledge of rock skirts the base of the bluff, providing a safe path to a wild and beautiful river woodland. Protected from human traffic by the river to the east and a wall of rock on the other, the snow is a newspaper of tracks and trails. All manner of animals, small and large, roam this marshy woods.  I stand for a while, absorbing the stories around me.  But, today I have a goal: the ice cave.


I reach a small valley that opens through the nearly continuous wall of rock. Only a careful gaze can see the bit of ice visible in a dark shadow above, not worth the effort to climb. Still, I hobble my way up to the shadow and find that the valley abruptly ends in a shallow half-circle cave. It is 5 to 20 feet in height  and 10 to 15 in depth, the whole cave being over 100 feet wide. 
Short but beautiful ice formations flank the sides, with several tall, magnificent ice columns gracing the center. It has the unsettling feeling of sacred space. I sit, my heart slows, and my senses reach out to explore…

Weeping sandstone, dripping in frozen lacework on the back wall…




The steady patter of falling water, a melody echoing from a hidden chamber within the column…


Pale blue-green light filtered through the icy veil…

The rattle of a small rock falling from the ceiling, the cluttered floor a witness to a process ongoing for thousands of years…

A feeling of safety and protection—a sense of history, of quiet ghosts of those who may have occupied this snug haven ages ago…

The heady smells of damp rocks, decaying leaves, of muddy soils…

Tracks of a small animal, barely visible in the twilight, leading to a dark hole in the far corner…

The ceiling, covered by the holes and impressions of 100s of fossilized Paleozoic worms…


The quiet, musical “clink” as I break off a tiny icicle, its melting coldness caressing my tongue….

I am enchanted by these lovely revelations and I admit that I seldom give my senses such full access to my conscious brain. Perhaps I have more worthy things to think about?  I continue to recall the words of Helen Keller: 

I who cannot see find hundreds of things to interest me through mere touch, feel the delicate symmetry of a leaf. I pass my hands lovingly about the smooth skin of a silver birch, or the rough shaggy bark of a pine. In spring I touch the branches of trees hopefully in search of a bud, the first sign of awakening Nature after her winter’s sleep. […and, even as I think of smells, my nose is full of scents that start awake sweet memories of summers gone and ripening fields far away].



Perhaps John Muir’s origin or definition of a saunterer was not accurate. Regardless, today I sauntered to this sacred place, bringing with me my greatest gifts—my senses.  And, it is awareness of these sensual moments that calls me to explore the world around me more fully, more intimately.  It is not just my healing leg that requires exercise!

Need a little food for your senses and rest from your emotions? Saunter along the river through the beautiful Kickapoo Valley Reserve and its sacred places; any day, any season, just do it!!

***

A note to our visitors...

We encourage everyone who hikes to the ice formations at the Kickapoo Valley Reserve this winter to be mindful of the fragility of the ice in a season that could see more traffic than usual as folks seek opportunities to get outside. Please remember that the Reserve's intent is to conserve, restore, and maintain the ecology and biodiversity of the Kickapoo Valley Reserve, while balancing access and recreation for visitors. Winter features like the ice formations are a part of this. Please avoid handling the ice and consider taking photos. We love to see photos shared on our social media pages. Thank you for being a part of the community that cares about the Kickapoo Valley Reserve and its many gifts. For more information, visit the Kickapoo Valley Reserve website and consult the Winter Trails Map.



Monday, December 21, 2020

Solstice: Celebrating Winter


Mid-winter or Solstice (December 21) is upon us. Here in Wisconsin the sun is already setting at 4:30pm and not rising again until 7:30am.That's a loooong winter night! Winter Solstice, the time of nature's darkness, has long been celebrated by humans around the world. In Northern climates celebrations often include fire and light to signify welcoming back the sun, and turning toward the renewing days of spring.



While the nights are long, the days of mid-winter in Wisconsin are often sunny and bright.  Taking long walks in the winter sunshine can be rejuvenating and so very interesting. What do you see, hear and find? Where are all the animals and what are they doing to stay warm?  Where do they shelter and what do they eat? How are the trees living through the cold?



To supplement your winter wonderings (and wanderings) you might check out these amazing books. There are some for adults and some for children.

Winter World by Bernd Heinrich
The Longest Night by Marian Dane Bauer
Dear Rebecca, Winter is Here by Jean Craighead George
The Shortest Day by Susan Cooper and Carson Ellis


Indoors there are many ways to continue to observe nature. A favorite is feeding and watching the birds outside your window. Young children can have an up-front seat to bird observation in the comfort of their homes. Many hours can be spent observing the ways that birds use their beaks to eat seeds, how they preen their feathers and how they chase away intruders at the feeder! KVR Instructor Barb Duerksen wrote a great post with tips and reminders about bird feeding back in October.



Collecting bits and pieces of nature and bringing them inside can be another wonderful way to observe and explore winter in the warmth of your home. Create an ever-changing seasonal nature table in your home! For more about creating nature tables, check out The Nature Corner: Celebrating the Year's Cycle with Seasonal Tableaux by M.V. Leeuwen and J. Moeskops.

Stargazing after the sun sets continues to delight during the winter season. Tonight, if the skies are clear from your corner of the world, check out this rare event with Jupiter and Saturn that is happening on solstice. If skies are cloudy in your area, there is a livestream available on the link. KVR Instructor and Astroeducator John Heasley also wrote about Winter Solstice Great Conjunction here

***

The Learning Outside blog will take a break until the week of January 11, 2021. We wish our readers everywhere opportunities to notice and appreciate the light of the new season. Thank you for joining us in 2020.