The Outside Story

The Outside Story
May 3, 2018

Mute swans, beautiful but harmful

By Meghan McCarthy McPhaul

The big white birds paddling gracefully across a Massachusetts pond last November surprised me. I’d grown up in the town I was visiting and had never seen swans there, although my friend assured me they were resident birds. The only mute…

April showers
The Outside Story
April 18, 2018

April showers

By Carolyn Lorié

In the pre-dawn hours of April 22, the Lyrid meteor shower will peak. About 15 to 20 meteors will be visible each hour, which really is not very many. By comparison, the Perseid meteor shower in August averages about 60 to 70…

The Outside Story
April 12, 2018

Porcupine salt cravings

By Susan Shea

When I was growing up, my family rented a vacation home on a mountain in southern Vermont. One night we were awakened by our dogs barking. Soon we heard a persistent gnawing on the outside of the house. My dad went to…

Spring: raccoons and other mischieveous critters
The Outside Story
March 30, 2018

Spring: raccoons and other mischieveous critters

By Meghan McCarthy McPhaul

Often, during my forays into the woods behind our house, I wonder who might be occupying the holes carved into tree trunks by time and nature. The barred owls I hear hoo-hoo-hoo-hooing, maybe, or the chittering red squirrels. And, chances are,…

The Outside Story
March 22, 2018

Stone walls

By Joe Rankin

When you think about the iconic landforms of the Northeast, what comes to mind? The mountains, of course. The lakes. Of course. Rivers? Probably.

But there’s another. Stone walls. An estimated 100,000 miles of them. They might not be as impressive as…

The Outside Story
January 4, 2018

Quaking Aspen: capturing winter light

By Meghan McCarthy McPhaul

Near the house where I lived during my Colorado years, there was a trail that wove through a sprawling grove of perfect quaking aspen trees. In spring, the soft green of emerging leaves was one of the first signs of warming…

The Outside Story
December 15, 2017

The afterlife of logs

By Declan McCabe

My three children have participated in a Four Winds Nature Institute program that recruits adult family members to lead grade-school nature learning. I have worked with several moms and dads over the years to pull together materials for hands-on lessons about communities,…

What are those Goldenrod golf balls?
The Outside Story
November 8, 2017

What are those Goldenrod golf balls?

By Declan McCabe

A few Thanksgivings ago, my then 10-year-old daughter and I went for an afternoon stroll. Unseasonably warm weather made for a longer than planned walk through a power line right-of-way and on down through steeply sloping woods to the Winooski…

A plague of ticks: scientists search for solutions
The Outside Story
September 20, 2017

A plague of ticks: scientists search for solutions

By Susan Shea

On a hike this spring, we walked through a clear-cut area with tall grass and brambles. Afterwards, our pant legs were crawling with black-legged ticks (Ixodes scapularis), also known as deer ticks, the kind that carry Lyme disease. Scientists with the Vermont…