Where You At?

While the rain slants sideways out the window and the birds huddle into the bushes outside our front door at work, I like to close my eyes and think about summer. While rain is welcomed and encouraged, it’s also easy to be lost in reverie of summer sun, soft meadow grass, blue skies, and berries. Ah, summer.

Summer musings bring me back to months ago, sitting in a circle at Bald Hill Farm as our state’s dynamic and reflective poet laureate, Kim Stafford, led a writing workshop with Greenbelt. We sit low to the ground, shoes cast aside. First, rather than doing introductions Kim has the everyone say what they dedicate their life to (oh, the fascinating responses … ‘silence’, ‘fish’, ‘children’), and then we all take a type of quiz.  What do we know about this place we call home? How acquainted are with with the biota of place? How can we dig deeper?

Aren’t these quiet times of winter just ripe for reflection? Like our wildlife kin, we nest into nooks. As your tea steeps and maybe a warm cat nestles into your lap, let’s take this down-time to get acquainted with place, with our home.

PS: Maybe this quiz would be fun for the family dinner table? A lunch break with fellow staff members?

Where You At
A Bio-Regional Quiz

What follows is a self-scoring test on basic environmental perception of place:

  1. Trace the water you drink from precipitation to tap.
  2. How many days till the moon is full?
  3. What soil series are you standing on?
  4. What was the total rainfall in your area last year (June-July)?
  5. When was the last time a fire burned your area?
  6. What were the primary subsistence techniques of the culture that lives in your area before you?
  7. Name five edible plants in your region and their seasons of availability.
  8. From what direction to winter storms generally come in your region?
  9. Where does your garbage go?
  10. How long is the growing season where you live?
  11. On what day of the year are the shadows shortest?
  12. When do deer rut in your region, and when are the young born?
  13. Name five grasses in your area. Are any of them native?
  14. Name five resident and five migratory birds in your area.
  15. What is the land use history where you live?
  16. What primary geological event/process influenced the land form where you live? (Bonus – what’s the evidence?)
  17. What species have become extinct in your area?
  18. What are the major plant associations in your region?
  19. From where you are reading this, point north.
  20. What spring wildflower is consistently among the first to bloom where you live?

“Bio-Regional Quiz,” co-written by Gary Snyder and others, from CoEvolution Quarterly, No. 32 (Winter 1981), p.a1.

A writer’s workshop at Bald Hill Farm