Welcome June!

On the first Wednesday of each month we like to pause and take a look at what’s going on in the world around us, with a particular focus on animal activity, celestial events, and our farmers’ fields.

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June! From the Seasoned perspective, summer has arrived! We are so excited for everything this season brings, particularly in the way of fresh foods, afternoon naps in the hammock, the way our hair is oh-so-perfect after a day in the ocean, and of course, the care-free feeling that comes with these long, warm, sun-soaked days. But if you see us on the beach this month, working on our tan, know that behind those dark shades we’re actually thinking big thoughts about 1. the crazy wildebeest migrations just starting up (see below), and 2. just what are we going to do with all of that mint we planted.

Earth and Sky

We’re taking the change in seasons as a chance to change-up the migration-focus  of monthly posts. During the spring season we welcomed each month following the migrations of North American species: the ruby throated hummingbirds, monarchs, and whooping cranes. This month we’re talking about some of the more extreme migrations that take place far from our east-coast homes.

Wildebeest

Right now, the great wildebeest herds that inhabit the Serengeti Plains of southeastern Africa are starting their northward migration. The dry season is just beginning in Tanzania, where the herd has spent January through May. They have fed on the low-growing nutrient-rich grasses that grow in the region, but aren’t available from June through October. During this time the herd will move north into Kenya, traveling at an average pace of 6 miles per day and feeding on the taller and less nutritious grasses of the region. More than 1.5 million wildebeest make the annual journey, and it’s considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World.

Caribou

This week is the middle of calving season for the Porcupine Caribou of Alaska’s northern shore. The caribou spent the past two months traveling from their winter grounds in the mountainous forested region north to the coastal plains. It is the pregnant females that begin the migration, arriving to the plain’s nutrient-rich grasses just in time to give birth. Unfortunately, there is little time to rest. By mid-June the herd will be on the move again, seeking out windy ridge tops to escape the onslaught of mosquitos and flies on the plains.  The size of these migrating herds are second to those of the wildebeest.

Arctic Tern

From out of the sky, the Arctic Tern just arrived at their summer breeding grounds in Greenland.  Having traveled 44,000 miles over the course of the year, these birds make the longest migration of any animal. The terns weigh a mere 4 ounces, but with new technology in the form of extremely tiny tracking devices, a group of scientists was able to follow the precise migration of individual birds. That study produced the map above; the terns are moving north along the yellow paths, south along the green paths, and the red area shows their winter range. While a direct route will be shorter, the terns’ looping routes show that they are following the prevailing winds (clockwise in the northern hemisphere and counterclockwise in the southern), thereby expending less energy on their journey. If they haven’t already, over the next month the terns will build their nest and lay a clutch of 2-3 eggs that will hatch after about 20 days.

Sky

Up above, the night sky is relatively mellow this month. There’s a full moon on June 13th, and a new moon on the 27th. I’m most excited about the moon’s location on June 7th: it will be within a few degrees on Mars! I have trouble identifying planets in the sky, so it’s great when there’s something like the moon to go off of, and both the moon and Mars will be sitting next to each other high in the eastern sky as the sun sets. June 21st is the summer solstice and the first day of summer! It’s on this day that the sun has reached its most northern point in the summer sky. And, on June 22nd I will be shedding a tear, knowing that we’re beginning the long, slow slide into winter. Didn’t it just snow last week?

Fields and Festivals

In the US, the farm fields are bursting, and there are so many opportunities to celebrate the season’s bounty. We had a lot of fun putting together a list of food-focused festivals, creating a virtual map of what’s ripe all across the US, and daydreaming about future festival-following road trips! But, if you’re not feeling up for the festival crowds, where ever there’s a party, there’s usually a farm with you-pick hours. You heard about Sarah’s strawberry picking in NC last week, but my favorite memory is Sarah-the-eskimo on a  particularly cold strawberry-picking adventure.

That is such a small handful of what’s going  on out there. There are strawberry festivals scattered across the lower 48. The southeast is flush with peach festivals. Want blueberry festivals? Now’s the time!  So whether it’s at a festival or on a random Wednesday afternoon, get out there and pick to your strawberry-blueberry-peach-loving heart’s content!

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Looking for more than just food?

Have we inspired you to pack up and head out on a festival-hopping road trip with us? We make awesome co-pilots.

FestivalNet.com is your source for all things festive! Wildebeest graphic from HowStuffWorks.com, and photo from a-z-animals.com. Caribou graphic and photo from US Fish and Wildlife Service. Photo accessed through Wikimedia CommonsArctic tern map from the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources, and downloaded from The Arctic Tern Project. Photo from National Geographic.
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