The ‘fall’ is upon us: nature in its autumn dress

Autumn is the mellower season,
and what we lose in flowers we more than gain in fruits. 

Samuel Butler

Autumn may inspire conflicting emotions, even in Lithuania. It is characterized by the last burst of warmth and some first taste of what is a promise of future cold days. Inevitably, nature starts to change its suit and golden, red and orange ‘nuggets’ appear in the same place as there used to be green leaves. This transformation is mainly visible in areas called “ekotonas” (ecotone), namely transitional zones between two biological communities. Here green and yellow are perfectly combined and separated though. Plants keep their green leaves on wet ground whereas yellowish leaves appear on a drier acid soil.

 

 

October is the Autumn ‘kernel’ in all its manifestations, ranging from shining golden shades of leaves to greyish natural views with some random azure blurs of a momentary open sky. This month I had the possibility of sharing my experience as EVS volunteer both face-to-face and virtually. First, I was invited to a Youth Exchange meeting where I met almost 30 young people from different countries. For one night, I took part to what could be considered the little sister of EVS. I had the possibility of telling my story, what I had done until that moment and what I acquired in terms of practical and personal experience. I also shared my consideration about Lithuania as someone living there for a certain amount of time. Everything culminated in a funny Spanish – Portuguese night with lots of music and wonderful food.

 

Autumn is also fruitful. “Ruduo” (from brown as the color to refer to autumn in Lithuania), has appeared only recently. In the past there were only two seasons to be described: the warmer one (vasara) and the colder one (žiema). This term was created later on in order to define a specific climatic situation occurring at the end of September. Nowadays, this period is still generally described as the season of harvest and this definition is appropriate. As EVS volunteer I had to create a personal project in addition to usual tasks in the park. Simply a suggestion / idea for a friend at first, this project took shape gradually. The collaboration of seven other volunteers from both national and regional parks was fundamental in defining it characteristics: a real written proposal to submit to our funder / coordinating organization; its purpose and main objectives; a possible budget and prospective targets. Several months of endless Skype calls, ideas, sticking-to-budget travels through different parks and lots of fun led to the final fruit or product: a video aiming to promote EVS volunteering, sustainable tourism and solidarity in natural parks by means of an actual story told by EVS volunteers as protagonists. Everything is accompanied by a sound promotional campaign on social media like Facebook. Here are two links: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QgIHhbgMICI for the movie; https://www.facebook.com/engagingpeoplefornature/?ref=bookmarks for the FB page.

This project showed me the value of collaboration and creativity. Every volunteer involved contributed to make this initiative possible and catchy. This movie also aimed to inspire future volunteers in choosing countries that receive less attention but are alive with possibilities, such as Lithuania.

Finally, on the 18th of October a project lasting about 10 years finally reached its outcome in Merkine. The opening of an Ornithological Centre with recreational areas such as campsites were greeted as potential ways of protecting and promoting natural, wildlife heritage and ornithological tourism (see http://gamta.cepkeliai-dzukija.lt/19661/top-menu.html?read=29663). I also helped Dzukija NP staff with the preparation of the centre by cutting grass and bushes and cleaning the area during the volunteer camp occurred between the end of August and the beginning of September.

Indeed a very productive month…

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