Tuesday, September 5, 2023

A Late Summer Note from SCT President John Cullity

Dear Members and Friends,

     I hope you have had a good summer, with a share of recreation, fun, and relaxing moments with family, friends and, nature.  It has been hard listening to the news, with so much strife, wild fires, flooding, and displacement taking place around the planet.  Compared to these, this summer on Cape Cod has been easy to take, and we have been given time to observe, consider, and plan for transitional experiences that could come our way.  A valuable counterpoise to the bad news for many of us is quiet time spent outdoors, perhaps in the nearest conservation area, whether beachfront, pond front, field, or forest.  This can bring us an opportunity to reflect and find moments of peace.

     Regardless of whether part of climate change or not, what characteristics or changes have you noticed in your back yard or neighborhood?  Here are a few observations from my neck of the woods:  It did not seem to be a big year for some insects, such as June bugs, fireflies, moths and even mosquitos, (until recently!)  Butterflies have been in fair supply.  There seem to be fewer ticks, but stay vigilant!  Spiders are doing very well, in kinds and numbers. Raccoons and rodents are abundant; skunks and woodchucks scarce.  We hear more and more about fisher cats. We’ve all seen more rabbits than anyone can recall, and we’ve heard the high-pitched yowling of coywolves at night.

     The abundant but mostly gentle precipitation has benefited vegetable and flower gardens, but roadside vegetation, poison ivy and the so-called invasives are thicker and more vigorous than ever.  Some kinds of trees are not doing so well, however, and perhaps the most tragic condition unfolding is beech leaf disease.  Beech trees, whether in a forest grove or as stately giants in a park or next to an old sea captain’s mansion, are very seriously threatened.  Efforts are underway to help the situation, but it doesn’t look good. 

     More observations of changes in the usual natural patterns can be given, but there is this positive takeaway:  Cape Cod does have a treasury of preserved lands of all sorts, serving as habitat and water protection, and available to the public.  If we choose to do so we can easily find pleasure and interest away from busy lives and screens by simply visiting these lands.  Observing nature or just sitting or standing quietly, we can relax, find interest, and therapy, too.

     Now, down to some business thoughts, specifically about the Sandwich Conservation Trust:  our Board of Trustees and I wish to thank everyone who has contributed to help our non-profit carry on with the work of preserving and maintaining natural land!  Members, long-time and recently joined, have contributed generously this year, and we are heartened and inspired by this.

     We also have a list of members who have offered to volunteer in some way.  We are very grateful for that, but please be patient with us if we have not called on you – we will soon. 

     A final thought:  we like to think that non-profits such as ours not only serve our stated purpose, we help, in a small way, to build community, by getting to know each other during events.  For our organization, nature walks and fun, educational meetings are some of the ways to achieve this.  Here are the SCT’s fall offerings:

Sunday, September 10th 2 pm – Maple Swamp Walk 

SCT President John Cullity will lead a walk in this large preserve which will last 1 to 1 ½ hours.  Though there is a maple swamp or two, we will mostly experience the dramatic hills and hollows of the glacial moraine, with interpretation of flora, fauna, and historic land use.  Learn about Sam Nye’s Mountain, Zene Wright’s Swamp and Moody Fish’s Bottom! This is a strenuous hike with steep slopes and occasional roots and loose gravel.  Please do not bring pets.  The walk will be cancelled if it is raining.  The entrance to the Maple Swamp Conservation Lands is off Service Road, half way between Chase and Quaker Meetinghouse Roads.  If there are questions call 508-888-7629.


Sunday, October 8th 2pm – Fungi Foray (Location to be announced) 

Dr. Lawrence Millman will lead a small group exploration of fungi that can be spotted at a Sandwich conservation area.  There is a limit of 20 participants. Call 508-888-7629 to register.  A $5 donation will be collected at the walk site.

Author-mycologist Lawrence Millman has written 20 books, including such titles as Last Places, At the End of the World, A Kayak Full of Ghosts, Fungipedia, Fascinating Fungi of New England, and — most recently — The Last Speaker of Bear. He has documented fungi in such places as the Canadian Arctic, Bermuda, Iceland, Nantucket, and Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, MA. He has a fungal species named after him (Inonotus millmanii), and in 2006 he found a species (Echinodontium ballouii) that was presumed to be extinct. He lives in Cambridge, MA. As a mycologist, he has studied fungi all over the world, but especially in his own backyard of New England.


SCT Annual Meeting  Sunday, October 29th, 2 pm 

Members and the public are invited to meet at the East Sandwich Grange Hall (part of the Nye Museum) at 91 Old County Rd.  The SCT business meeting will run until 2:30, at which time Mark Robinson, Executive Director of the Compact of Cape Cod Conservation Trusts will speak on “Saving the Cape: A History of Land Conservation of Cape Cod”, a unique and interesting talk by someone who has “been in the thick” of land conservation work for 37 years.  Mark is a great speaker, don’t miss it.  Refreshments will be served.  For questions about this event or the walks call 508-888-7629.

Yellow garden spider

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