aspleniumrhizophyllum5You’d think that those field guides truly enjoy a motionless existence on your book shelf.  Covers torn.  Bindings loosened.  Pages heavily marked by footnotes and water smears.  It’s okay though.  Winter is no time to worry about the status of any of them.  Why think about a field guide when current conditions are so very far from the “70s, sunny, and ever-so-slightly breezy” days for which one may be most useful?

*Sigh*

Depending on the upcoming prediction cast by celebrity Punxsutawney Phil (yes, a groundhog is a celebrity here in Pennsylvania), spring is still several weeks away.  And to tell you the truth, those field guides are looking awfully lonely.  Yep.  They’re just as anxious as you are to get outside… eagerly anticipating the day they can leap off the shelf and return to the comforts of an old familiar home — your fanny pack.

Believe it or not, cabin fever is a very real thing, and one of the leading causes among naturalists these days is an unused field guide.  And as real as the illness may be, the remedy is shockingly simple.  All you really have to do is dust off a lonely field guide or two (three or four may be best).  The fever should then subside, if only by just a few degrees.

I’ve been testing this remedy in my own life actually, and the results have been miraculous.  I’ve discovered that winter provides a unique opportunity to explore the outdoors in search of creatures we’d normally overlook, though without a field guide, that pretty little plant becomes “just a winter plant,” that weirdly-shaped fern becomes “just a winter fern,” and that blackened crust high up on the tree is… not your prized chaga fungus.  Sorry!

While recently exploring the forests here in Western Pennsylvania, I encountered limestone boulders atop a very deep gorge.  And although the sun’s low arc reminded me that it was still winter, I observed several unique plants (still green!) thriving on this unique substrate.  Normally, I might’ve overlooked this particular area, but the greenery was too good to ignore.

If you’re interested in seeing what I discovered (or you’d like to be reminded that nature is still worth your attention even in winter), check out the brand new video.  You may be inspired to reawaken a dusty field guide or two…