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.
I don’t know what happened this year, but as soon as the calendar flipped to November I had a twinge of nervousness that the season’s passing to quickly. Did you feel that way? It’s the mix of looking forward to and preparing for Christmas while at the same time trying to live in the moment and enjoy every bit of the slow days before Thanksgiving. In an effort to mix the two, I have big plans for long evenings in front of the fire slowly crafting away on holiday projects… we’ll see how that goes. It was nice to look through photos from Novembers past and realize just how much we are able to pack into this one month. From the ones I’m sharing in this post, it’s a pretty even mix of travel, time outside, and of course, the Christmas prep that I love. I hope your month is a mix of all the good things you love too.
We’ve had such a mild fall in Boulder so far, it’s hard to believe that at the end of the month we’ll be visiting Calder’s family in CA, where, if we’re lucky we’ll be knee deep in snow, risking our life sledding, and (unsuccessfully) dodging stray snowballs!
Earth & Sky
As the seasons change from summer to winter, fall is another important and busy time for migrating animals. I thought it would be fun to move from land to sea this month and look up the migration activities of animals that live in or are closely linked to an ocean.
Every year populations of humpback whales cross the Pacific from north to south as they move from their summer feeding grounds along the shores of Alaska and Russia to their winter breeding grounds off the coasts of Hawaii, Mexico, and Asian Pacific Islands.
The largest winter calving grounds are in the waters around Hawaii, and particularly off the island of Maui in the Humpback Whale Marine Sanctuary. You can expect the first whales to begin arriving in these waters by September or October, but you are guaranteed to see them starting in November. The whales will stay in the area through May, birthing their young and teaching them basic behaviors, from breaching to tail and fin slapping. If you’re lucky enough to vacation in Hawaii this winter, listen for the male humpbacks singing!
Christmas Island Red Crabs
Christmas Island, located in the Indian Ocean, is home to an endemic species of land-dwelling crabs. For most of the year, the crabs live a solitary life inland, eating leaves and flowers, but every year between October and January, the crabs migration en mass to the coast to mate and spawn. With a population of over 40 million crabs all moving at once, this migration is awe-inspiring, and can cause a bit of a headache for local travels. The crabs can take-over roadways, and often roads that cross their migration route are closed off to let the crabs pass. The start of the migration coincides with the wet season on the Island. Generally, the crabs have to be very conservative with their movements in order to conserve body moisture, but with the rains, they are able to move more freely and make the migration to the coast.
Once at the beach, the male crabs will create a burrow where they will mate with the female crabs. After mating, the males will return to the forest while the females will stay in the burrows for up to two weeks as the eggs develop. The females will then deposit their eggs in the ocean where the larva will hatch and spend 3-4 weeks before returning to land as young crabs. What’s really interesting about the whole event is that the female crabs deposit their eggs in the ocean precisely at the turn of high tide during the last quarter of the moon!
Understanding the timing of that activity, the possible spawning dates for this year are October 19th, November 18th, or December 18th. It all depends upon when the rains begin to fall.
Fields & Festivals
I think of November and I think about good, hearty, home-cooked meals. What about you? Our farm share continues to deliver into December, so I’ve started researching some new-to-me savory veggie recipes for the season. On Monday I made my own version of this savory galette using fresh kale, leeks, and butternut squash. Tonight it’s a spinach and salmon quiche, and tomorrow it’s short ribs with a side of roasted acorn squash.
There are still plenty of veggies coming out of the farmers’ fields, and plenty going into storage for the winter, so don’t reduce yourself to iceberg lettuce and applies shipped from New Zealand yet! If you’re lucky, your local farmer’s market may still be in operation. Don’t wait to get out there and pick up something fresh. I took the photo above at an evening market in Berlin as I passed through a couple years ago for work.
When it comes to festivals, there are still some great food-focused events going on. Sarah’s heading to Saxis (photo above taken as the sun rose over the town’s marina two Novembers ago) to hit up the Saxis Oyster festival this weekend! If you’re looking for something fun to do this weekend, you may find the calendar dominated by craft fairs and festivals – we think they’re a great way to support independent artists and pick up unique gifts for holiday giving. Below are a few we would love to check out. If there’s anything fun going on in your area, let us know!
- Nov. 8-9 : San Francisco Renegade Craft Fair
- Nov. 14-16 : Art Denver
- Nov. 15 : Brookline Market Craft Fair
- Nov. 15-16 : New York Renegade Craft Fair
- Nov. 16 : San Diego Indie Craft Market
- Nov. 21-23 : Craft Vermont
- Nov. 28-29 : Traditional Winter Spanish Market, Santa Fe
As I’m signing off, I’m thinking about ways to wrangle this baby-turned-toddler for some Christmas card photos!