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Notes From The Field Blog

Robert D. Hinkle, PhD

Bob Hinkle, PhD was a long-time chief of Outdoor Education at Cleveland Metroparks.


Welcome to the Warm Heart of Winter
Posted: 12/27/2012
February is a month of change in Cleveland Metroparks. For the past few years now, this month has relaxed its traditional grip on winter and brought us middling snows and slush. Your grandparents knew a different February than you, when snow fell and stayed for two months straight, and temperatures dropped so low that pipes froze and the canal in the valley was a community ice rink, free for the taking. Februarys may never return to those cold weather scenes again, not in our lifetime, nor our children'...


The Promise of Spring
Posted: 12/27/2012
The month of January was named, it is told, for Janus, the Roman god with two faces. One face looked backward to what was in the past, and the other looked forward into the future, for what will be. In January, the future is ripe with promise. I've always thought of January as the great leveler. September, for example, is a bumpy month. There are fruits ripening, insects hatching, birds migrating, trees changing color, weather trying to decide what to do, always so much going on. January is a level mont...


October - Nature's Last Hurrah
Posted: 12/27/2012
October is nature's last hurrah, I think. By month's end uncountable tons of leaves blanket the forest floors of Cleveland Metroparks, only to return as food for their maker next year and nourishment for the splendor of spring wildflowers. November is a gray and gritty month, filled with bare limbs and spitting snow and sleet and rain. Those who love spring, summer and fall have given up by the end of October, the warmth of another year quickly becoming a distant memory. It is incumbent on us, therefore...


An Essay on Garlic Mustard
Posted: 12/27/2012
From time to time, I find writing so insightful and applicable to our beloved Cleveland Metroparks that I relinquish my usual monthly message to you and ask the author’s permission to share it instead. This is one of those articles, speaking of the horrific impacts of alien plant invaders and explaining why we must, perhaps forever, manage our reservations and preserves for native plant diversity. —Robert D. Hinkle, PhD, Chief, Division of Outdoor Education Here are the words of Mandy Henderson, Ar...


Protecting the Great Brecksville Salamander Migration
Posted: 12/27/2012
There is a spectacle in March that remains largely unnoticed by the majority of park users. Every March night, when a gentle rain falls and the air temperature rises above 45°F, hundreds, sometimes thousands of salamanders undertake a perilous trek from the hidden forest haunts across Valley Parkway in Brecksville to find certain ancestral breeding pools. There the males deposit fertilized packages on the bottom of the vernal pools, and the females come forth to find those packages and lay the...


Bird Migrations
Posted: 12/27/2012
They are stirring. Restless, their eagerness building, soon they will come, millions upon millions, as the great migration northward begins. No adjective can enlighten a statement about the enormity of it all, the very diversity of songbirds and the masses that swarm through on starlit nights as they come north, but come they do. And now we can see them, through the darkness, as they push north. Mysteries of Migrations Migration seems always to have been a mystery. Biblical references point to the south...


Notes on the Future of Life
Posted: 12/27/2012
Technology Marches On In mid-June this year, it was announced that a technology firm had created an artificial DNA-like structure that could self-replicate, creating what has been described as an artificial bacteria. Never before in the history of mankind has non-living matter been able to duplicate itself — that's been the sole propriety of life itself. From tiny single-celled organisms to the massive blue whale, and all species in between, the measure of life has been the ability of cells to self-repl...


Saint John's Wort, The Solstice Flower
Posted: 12/27/2012
There are icons that emerge from one's life, things that add meaning to the calendar and the circular flow of time through the year. Some are simple, like spring migration and December snow, and others are individual and often deeply personal, arising from discoveries and experiences that have shaped our lives. I have been fortunate to lead a life centered on nature. From my earliest memories I recall times in the field with my parents, hunting and fishing, finding mushrooms and puffballs to eat, watchi...