The sweetness of an early summer evening, the soft sunlight shimmering through the green leaves; the smell of lilacs, oh such delicious perfume! When I am in Montreal, I live on the edge of a beautiful neighborhood, with lots of trees and parks. I’m happy to say there are more and more gardens with wild edges covered in dandelions and greenery, providing a biodiversic (not sure if that’s a qualified word, but it should be!) haven for the birds and the bees!
I saw a bat as I was walking home tonight, flitting fast through the air catching early insects for dinner. Bats are having a hard time right now with the onset of White Nose Syndrome, which is decimating hundreds of them. Bees, bats, frogs, coral reefs - the canary is singing really loudly in the coal mine! The good news is that people are trying to make changes in any way that they can; planting native gardens, buying food from local farmers markets, taking public transit, recycling, saving energy and water, writing to politicians and just paying attention. You cannot focus on the enormity of it all, you just have to keep doing whatever you can, to raise the quality of life for all sentient beings. Don’t get bogged down by the bad news, the constant barrage of negativity; it numbs us and creates apathy and that is the last thing we need.
This week we’re on to the bridge of the song “I Saw Butterflies Kissing Today!”. Here we go:
As the sun went down
Saw a little brown bat,
Flying through the air catching all those gnats!
Had me a wish on a star in the sky
Just before I left I saw a firefly!
One of the most abundant bat species in North America, these nocturnal mammals have been impacted by the White Nose Syndrome Introducing kids to bats early on is a good way to quell the irrational fear that seems to surround them. Bats are important to ecological balance as well as being extremely Beneficial to farmers. With the onset of diseases like West Nile disease, which is primarily spread through mosquitoes, having bats around is instrumental in diminishing its spread. Bats feed on a variety of insects and of course some bats feed on fruit and berries. Vampire bats do indeed exist, feeding off the blood of sleeping animals. Which kind of bat species live in your neighborhood? Have any of the kids seen one? Investigate which species lives nearby and learn everything you can about it. If you can, build a Bat House, or ask someone in the community to help you build it and put it up. This Website has some fun information and activities on different Bats.
2. Why do we wish on a star? Ask students to think about this, discuss it with them; what is it about stars, that captures our imagination so much that we would wish upon one? What are stars? NASA has a nice program you can explore, called StarChild; look at some incredible photos such as the one above which is the Birth of Stars or Stars – beautiful images captured by the Herschel telescope. Have your students ever seen a night sky filled with stars? Living in the city, many of them might not have had this experience. Find out if there is a Planetarium close to you that you could possibly visit with students. The NASA Kids Club Club has some fun activities you can use. We are made up of Stardust, so perhaps that is why the stars hold so much fascination for us; or maybe it is just our innate sense of curiosity about the mystery of this infinite universe in which we live! Our cosmic heritage!
3. Firefly! There is something magical about witnessing fireflies sparkling in the darkness of a summer night! Fireflies are actually a kind of beetle, with wings that are in the same family as glowworms. Ask students if they’ve ever seen a firefly? Maybe they haven’t; here is a Video showing them glowing in the dark. So, how do fireflies produce their light? They use Bioluminescence; and how does Bioluminescence work? Glowing animals typically create light through Luminescence, mixing together chemical compounds to produce a glow. Plants and Animals use bioluminescence including many Sea Creatures So, the big question for inquiring minds is....do both the male and female fireflies flash their lights? Does the female have an ulterior Motive?
Bats, insects, stars and fireflies...hmmm let me see! Bats predate on insects and help to maintain an ecological balance; fruit bats are crucial for seed dispersal. Bat Guano is an effective natural fertilizer that can be used to enrich soil that is deficient in organic matter. The larvae of fireflies help to maintain ecological balance in the soil since their diet consists mostly of cutworms, snails and grubs. As for the stars, well since we are all made up of stardust, that make us pretty interconnected, no?
In addition to “I Saw Butterflies Kissing Today!”, you will find the Bat song on my MySpace page, and here is a cute Video of that song too.
These Native American Sky Legends have some good stories. The Legend of Quito shows how a city was founded because of a falling star! Here's some more Folklore about stars and meteors.
Have a great week and enjoy the outdoors wherever you are! If you enjoy my songs and would like to support the music, please join my Kickstarter Fundraiser which will give you a copy of my new CD!
In gratitude for life and this precious Earth!
Information on Bats
For Fun – Here’s 50 signs of Good Luck from around the world!
More information on Fireflies
Make a “Firefly Diorama”
Photo of Lilac Sten Porse Wikimedia Commons
Little brown Bat photo by Don Pfritzer US Fish & Wildlife
Firefly on leaf by Cyphonocerus, Wikimedia Commons
Photo of firefly with light by Emmanuelm, Wikimedia Commons