The calling of the meadowlark

    As a boy growing up in southeast Denver, every day I walked to school and back through grass fields. The view of the mountains from the ridge, the sounds of wind through the grass, the weight of mud-caked shoes remain strong memories. But the strongest is the Western Meadowlark. Strikingly beautiful -- the male’s prominent black “Y” on its yellow chest made me think it dressed-up and ready-to-go, and its calls commanding: “Spring is here--nowcomecheckmeout!”. Yet near the end of my decade of trudging to school over the same path, I noticed seeing and hearing fewer meadowlarks -- replaced by boxy houses and loud cars.

    A few decades later I am a scientist who studies landscape change. I make maps to remember landscapes that once were and to envision those that might be. I create animations to compress decades of change to a few startling moments. I ask you to reflect on changes that have happened to your childhood landscape, and I hope you consider: how do you connect to nature today?

    For me, it is the calling of the meadowlark.