September 2 is International Rock-Flipping Day. Mark your calendars.
How is it possible — I said to myself on Monday afternoon when I was putting together my post about flipping over rocks — that I don’t have a single good photo of the rocks in our woods? Even more unforgivable, I don’t have any photos of the creatures that live underneath them: no ant colonies, no salamanders, no caddis fly larvae from underneath the rocks in our creek. Nada. So I was very receptive when Fred Garber suggested in a comment that we pick a day for everybody to go outside — go as far as you have to — and flip over a rock (or two, or three). We could bring our cameras and take photos, film, sketch, paint, or write descriptions of whatever we find. It could be fun for the whole family!
I emailed Bev Wigney, the doyenne of invertebrate bloggers, and discovered that she shared my enthusiasm. But we thought we’d better act fast, for the benefit of folks here in the northern hemisphere, and go with September 2. Any later and things start dying off or going down below frost line.
Fred had suggested trying to get everyone to flip over a rock at the same moment, but that would end up being the middle of the night for some people, so let’s just stick to a calendar date. I would like to restrict it to rocks, though they wouldn’t have to be on dry land — they could be on the bottom of the sea if you have a way to get down there.
The point is simply to have fun, and hopefully learn something at the same time. We don’t want to over-determine what that something should be: those of a more scientific frame of mind might focus on i.d.s or ecological interactions, while those of an artistic or poetic bent could go in a different direction entirely. Pictures alone would suffice, of course. But whatever you do, please be sure to replace all rocks that you flip as soon as possible, so as not to disrupt the natives’ lives unduly. (Unless, that is, you plan on incorporating some of what you find into your next meal — crawdads? escargots? — which would also make a interesting subject for an International Rock-Flipping Day blog post, I’m thinking.)
We want to try and keep this as decentralized as possible. Everyone who blogs about it can link to everyone else at the bottom of their post, or in a subsequent post if they prefer. I’m willing to act as coordinator and send out a list of links that evening or the next morning, with all the HTML tags in place for people to copy and paste. Send your links to me as soon as you post: bontasaurus (at) yahoo (dot) com, with “Rock Flipping” in the subject line.
No blog? No problem. I’ve also set up a Flickr group, www.flickr.com/groups/rockflippingday, anticipating that bloggers and non-bloggers alike might want to share photos that way. We’re interested mainly in pictures of whatever you find under the rocks, but pictures of people flipping rocks are also permissible. The grand prize goes to anyone who can get a picture of a non-human critter, such as a bear or a raccoon, flipping a rock on September 2. (I don’t know what the grand prize will be yet, but trust me, it’ll be good.)
For those who would rather not bother with Flickr, Bev has volunteered to create a gallery within her Pbase photo site: simply send your images as email attachments to her, bev (at) magickcanoe (dot) com, again with “Rock Flipping” in the subject line.
I think that about covers it, but if other ideas occur to you, leave a comment and I’ll update this post if need be. If you like the idea, please help spread the word. And if anyone feels like designing a logo, be my guest.