By Coggin Heeringa, Interpretive Naturalist, Crossroads at Big Creek, Inc.
“To everything there is a season,” according to the lyrics of a folk song by the Byrds. Now that we have had some snow, we think … hope … it is Ski Season! And this week our programs, though quite varied, seem to relate in some way to “a time to be born and a time to die.”
During Ski Season, the weather conditions tend to be quite varied, but when they are favorable – snow is deep enough, gale-force winds have not created drifts, and the temperatures are “winter-moderate” – Crossroads trails will be groomed for skiing. If conditions are not favorable for skiing the trails will still be open to the public all day, every day free of charge.
Again this winter, Crossroads will offer our popular Ski-for-Free Program on weekends. Friends of Crossroads and volunteers from Door County Silent Sports will help participants find the correct sizes of equipment. We have skis, boots, poles, snowshoes and kicksleds for all sizes, small child to large adult. And as the name suggests, we lend equipment free of charge.
When snow and temperature conditions allow, Ski-for-Free is open on Saturdays from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and on Sundays from 12:30 – 3:00 p.m. Please check the Crossroads website or Facebook page for current conditions and Ski-for-Free hours which, due to weather conditions, are subject to change.
Winter is the season for our Fish Tales Lecture Series: Presenting the Science of Great Lakes Fisheries.
On Thursday, January 18, at 7:00 p.m., Dr. Dan Isermann, Unit Leader of the U. S. Geological Survey’s Wisconsin Cooperative Fishery Research Unit, will kick off the series with his presentation, “A Quest for Nests II: Revisiting Nest Fishing and Smallmouth Bass Recruitment along the Door Peninsula.”
Isermann’s research is truly about the “time (for smallmouth bass) to be born” and whether nest fishing results in “a time to die,” in other words, fish mortality.
In his Fish Tale lecture last year, screening fascinating videos, Isermann described how, using camouflaged Go-Pro cameras, he and his team filmed male smallmouth bass guarding the nests of their offspring in the shallow waters just off the Door Peninsula. The scientists watched hundreds of hours of footage during the season in which nest survival was most likely. They hoped to learn which predator species is responsible for fish mortality and, additionally, how nest fishing impacts mortality.
We are eager to see “Nests Part II,” the results of the research conducted last summer. Nest fishing is a controversial topic, so the more science-based evidence, the better. The lecture will be offered in-person at the Collins Learning Center at Crossroads. Seating is limited. Reserve a seat using the Crossroads website. Thanks to a collaboration with the Door County Library, the lecture also will be available via ZOOM or Facebook Live. Go to https://doorcountylibrary.org/event.html and click on January 18 to find the link.
Our free family program, Saturday Science, will feature Planet Sizes. Learners of all ages (one needs not be with their family to attend) will gather in the Collins Center lecture hall for a short film about the birth of the Solar System. Then, the group will move into the Science Lab to participate in an interactive activity using playdough to demonstrate the remarkable range of planet sizes.
Like Fish Tales and Saturday Science, the meeting of the Beekeepers Club will feature seasons, birth, and death when it meets Tuesday, January 16, at 6:30 p.m. at Crossroads. Guest speaker Bill Meyer will offer “A Brief Discussion of the Biology of Honeybees,” an overview of the body parts and functions of bees, including the influence of hormones, and explain why Varroa mites are so detrimental to bee health.
And for those who want to learn more (a lot more) about beekeeping, the Club will offer “Introduction to Beekeeping,” an informative, interactive workshop on January 20, 8 a.m. – 12 p.m., to teach participants about basic equipment, tools, and techniques; how to choose the best hive location; how to obtain and install bees; and what to expect during the first year of beekeeping.
The workshop will be held at the Collins Learning Center at Crossroads. To register, email email@example.com. The workshop fee of $25 for individuals and $40 for couples helps supports restoration and pollinator plantings at Crossroads and all participants will receive half off a yearly DCBC membership.
Door County Master Gardeners Association and Wild Ones-Door Peninsula are also starting their Lecture Series. On Tuesday, January 23, they will livestream one of their favorite presenters, Mark Dwyer. He will explain a wide range of techniques for maximizing the appeal and impact of perennials (native and non-native) in a garden. Livestreamed to the Collins Learning Center at Crossroads or online at https://crossroadsatbigcreek.org/event/dcmaga-deadheading-to-division/.
On Wednesday, January 24, the Crossroads Book Club will gather around the fireplace at the Collins Learning Center to discuss “The Hidden Life of Trees,” by Peter Wohlleben, which gives an overview of forest ecosystems and suggests that trees are “social beings.” And, yes, the book actually does cover the seasons and the birth and death of trees. One need not read the book to be welcome at this free monthly event.