Blue Ridge Country May/June 2020 - 64

SINGING IN THE GARDEN

"Unless we learn to know
ourselves, we run the danger
of destroying ourselves.
- Ja A. Jahannes

Counting It All up
Text and art by GINNY NEIL

M

y science lab becomes a busy place as
spring gives way to summer. You would
probably call it my garden, but it is so
much more. As a newbie gardener, back in
my early 20's, I had no idea of the raw data
hiding under bushes, fluttering through
flowers and falling from the sky, but since
I became a Master Naturalist, I am suddenly smarter.
I am so smart, that I have become a card-carrying, data
reporting citizen scientist. One of the earliest citizen science programs, The Christmas Bird Count, has been in
existence since the early 1900s, and with the advent of
the internet, more and more ordinary citizens are gathering data to be used in real time by scientists around the
world. Add in smart phones that can share GPS locations
and the perfect storm of information is now available.
My first foray into adding info to the huge data gather-

64

BLUERIDGECOUNTRY.COM

ing network was through CoCoRAHs. This organization
has been collecting rain, hail and snow data across America for over 20 years. There's a very large rain gauge on a
fence post in my flower garden that measures precipitation to the nearest hundredth of an inch so I can report
what's fallen right in my own backyard.
The most interesting thing about this project is the
wildly different amounts of rain and snow that fall within
50 miles of my garden. The southern part of my county
is generally wetter than my end. Scientists are using this
precipitation information to study the behavior of micro
weather patterns and the effects of global warming.
I also monitor butterflies. The row of zinnias that edge
my garden and the purple thistles dotting my fields are
magnets for migrating monarchs who need a boost of energy for the next leg of their journey. Plus, the milkweed
that grows all around my property is a great caterpillar


http://www.BLUERIDGECOUNTRY.COM

Blue Ridge Country May/June 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Blue Ridge Country May/June 2020

Blue Ridge Country May/June 2020 - Intro
Blue Ridge Country May/June 2020 - Cover1
Blue Ridge Country May/June 2020 - Cover2
Blue Ridge Country May/June 2020 - 3
Blue Ridge Country May/June 2020 - 4
Blue Ridge Country May/June 2020 - 5
Blue Ridge Country May/June 2020 - 6
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Blue Ridge Country May/June 2020 - Cover3
Blue Ridge Country May/June 2020 - BPG 32
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Blue Ridge Country May/June 2020 - Cover4
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