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out natcornDespite last week’s chill and blustery snow, we are in the throes of spring migration. Actually, migration never stops. There is a bird somewhere on its way to somewhere else every month of the year. Purple martins have reached Florida by January. In June around the Cape May Migratory Bird Refuge you might find red knots headed north and least sandpipers headed south.

out natcornNo, I’m not late. I’m not talking about puking green beer or waking up with Leprechauns — I’m talking about green with a capital “G.”

out natcornPeople say the corporate world has no soul. Corporations don’t give a rat’s behind about their employees, especially after they’re gone. And the flip side is employees are just there to get a paycheck. They do what it takes, and if they’re lucky, they have a job that pays the bills while they can’t wait to get the heck outta there. Well, I’m here to tell you it ain’t always so. I mean, we have a great example right here in North Carolina.

out natcornA river of burnt umber flows every year from southern Canada through the U.S. to the oyamel fir forests in the mountains west of Mexico City. This river tumbles along in a kind of bubbly joy reserved for kids, fairies, hermits, counterfeit curmudgeons and anyone whose soul is pricked by unimaginable beauty not trying to be beautiful — simply being.

out natcornNo better way to celebrate a big thaw than an impromptu field trip. We rounded up kids, friends and friends’ kids and headed for the North Carolina Arboretum in Asheville. Our first stop at the Arboretum was the Baker Exhibit Center. Denise had checked online before we left and said there was a dinosaur exhibit there. I was curious to find out how dinosaurs were going to be exhibited at the Arboretum. Like most things at the Arboretum, it was totally cool. 

out natcornIn my youth, never did a B-western movie make it to the end without the bad guy being cornered and denounced for the “yellow-bellied sapsucker” he was. Yellow-belly and/or yellow-bellied has, for various etymological reasons, been associated with cowardice. Sapsucker, I don’t know, maybe it just sounds kinda lowlife. 

Discovery Place

out natcornLooking for something fun for the kids on a cold and/or rainy winter’s day. The Discovery Place in Charlotte has got you covered. We spent three-and-a-half hours there this past weekend with our two daughters Izzy (12) and Maddie (8) and we never heard a single “I’m bored” or “I’m tired” or “Can we go now.”

natcornI mentioned the fact a couple of weeks ago that N.C. House Bill 74— the Regulatory Reform Act of 2013 — was set to begin the process of reviewing, readopting and/or repealing all state rules and that the first rules under the dissection scope would be those related to surface water quality and wetland regulations.

out natcornThe annual Balsam Christmas Bird Count (CBC) took place Saturday, Jan. 4. In the weeks prior to the count many regular Balsam CBC participants, like me, had been crying in our eggnog. Bob Olthoff, long-time compiler for the count, was calling Lake Junaluska a “liquid desert” due to the lack of waterfowl.

out naturalistThis appears especially true in the Old Home State where the (first in over 100 years) Republican triad used the 2013 session of the General Assembly to lay waste to decades of progressive environmental policy and programs that produced a state that was a leader in outdoor tourism, retirement destination, second-homes, environmental policy and protection, quality of life and — prior to 2013 — ranked number 4 on CNBC’s “America’s Top States for Business.” North Carolina has since been relegated to number 12 on CNBC’s list because of its declining “Quality of Life.”

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