Definition of Phenology: The cyclic and seasonal changes of natural phenomena, especially in relation to climate and plant & animal life.
Beautiful Autumn blusters have been whipping and whistling around the north east for the past week, and this evening another telling sign of summer's end has made itself notably clear to me; the imminent absence of one of the more endearing soundtracks to our British summer. Since their return to Britain earlier this year screams of Swifts have been welcoming me home from dawn bat surveys, and wishing me well on nocturnal wildlife escapades. Now, the unmistakable calls of this estate's breeding population of Swifts has rung silent.And just like that, as though the Autumn winds themselves have gently whisked these summer migrants along their southern route, the dominant audible summer phenology of this estate has ended. I wonder what audible phenology Autumn will bring to this part of suburbia? The rustling and crunching of crisp leaves? The travelling calls of young Tawny Owls vocalising the boundaries of their new territories?
Perhaps the clunking of falling Conkers will be the next sound?
I still adore being amongst fallen leaves
Have you ever come across the same scent of someone you love, and had the same surge of emotions that being with them can cause? Have you ever smelt a particular food, which you ate throughout your childhood, and it made you reflect on memories of your childhood home? This 'olfactory (scent) memory' is caused by 'neuromodulation'; a smart tool within us which connects the scents we receive with the emotions we're feeling at the time of smelling them. Neuromodulation exists within mammals (yes, including us!) and is an evolutionary tool we've so cleverly maintained to help us survive. Many of us may notice behavioural, physiological and emotional changes within ourselves as the seasons shift; our very own phenological changes which are cyclical, repeated and strengthened each year.
So how important is it, that we understand phenology in children? Emotionality in children is considerably higher than it is in adults; meaning that the emotional memories which children create often last throughout adulthood. Olfaction is the strongest medium for the emotional retainment of memories; and has allowed the autumnal scents of damp earth and dusty leaves to take me back to the freedom of kicking up leaves with my mum.
My sister, Hazel, and I acting like children again with a huge pile of Conkers last year
I'd love you to share any seasonal changes which stir your emotions, and how they take you back to any childhood memories.
After all, to understand the phenology of Nature in the places we live, is to understand ourselves.