Naturally, the audience for Mary Holland’s presentation at the Birds of Vermont Museum on August 4, 2012, came brimming with curiosity, eager to embark on the seasonal journey related in her slideshow and lively narration. As an environmental educator and life-long naturalist, Mary Holland has encountered and studied all manner of Vermont animals and vegetation in her backyard spaces and wild places.
Mary is an accomplished nature photographer who offers her audience a vivid collection of images which showcase the beauty and challenges of survival throughout the re-activation of life in March to the lingering dormancy in a late winter February. We were treated to photos showing skunk cabbage (which produces heat energy and CO 2 through sugar combustion) able to emerge through a mantle of snow, the mud tubes of Organ Pipe Mud Daubers who encase paralyzed spiders within as food for their wasp larvae, and bear cubs briefly extricated from their winter den for field research data collection. Along with the talk and slideshow, Mary came with a curious collection of items: pelts and skeletons made up a portion of the displays, but the unexpected things were really unexpected: a black bear’s fecal plug (yes, they really do hold it during hibernation), a reclaimed and “winterized” bird’s nest suitable for a warmth-seeking deer mouse (utilizing its milkweed seed cache), and a shadow box with flat bones from a variety of mammalian penises (yes, someone later made the connection to a certain phrase…). I doubt you’ll see these at your local nature center!
Mary Holland’s work and passion enriched our understanding of the mechanisms and behaviors which enable living things to adapt to New England’s annual cycles of change. Her book, Naturally Curious, is available for sale in the Birds of Vermont Museum gift shop. Take a peek and let your curiosity run wild! For more information about Mary Holland or to schedule a program see http://naturallycuriouswithmaryholland.wordpress.com/