The browning and dropping of the leaves off California buckeyes in August is a sure sign that summer is waning. The arrival of the advance guard of southbound shorebirds along the coast is another good signal, a trickle that becomes a tidal wave by the official start of autumn in late September.
I was out on the San Mateo coast in late August, observing some of the early arrivals. Amongst those early birds was a flock of black-bellied plovers. I wouldn’t have identified them without the help of an accompanying expert, as the first one we spotted was in rather plain fall plumage and looked like any number of other shorebirds. But then we saw that two of the small flock still had the plain-as-day (and simply gorgeous) black bellies that give the species its name. It’s a sight we don’t often get to see in the Bay Area, since the plovers generally molt out of their trademark plumage before arriving here from the Arctic tundra.
This got me thinking how we go out for excursions with certain expectations, but that one of the real thrills in observing the natural world is coming upon the unexpected. And, in a sense, it has been like that working on Bay Nature over this first year. Oh, we certainly planned all along to put out a spectacular magazine reflecting the beauty of the natural world hereabouts. But we had no idea that photographer Glenn McCrea would show up with his dazzling photos of dewdrops. (See this issue’s centerfold.) Or that we’d find artist Carl Buell to work with writer Joe Eaton to create a brilliant portrait of the Bay Area as we’ll never see it with our own eyes, in the age of mastodons. But you open a door, and sometimes wonderful things walk in through it.
That’s the general idea of Bay Nature…to open a door onto the natural landscapes of the Bay Area and to the many, many people of the region who care for and revel in them. And I think we’ve done that. The response from readers has been inspiring and humbling, convincing us that Bay Nature has hit a chord and found a dedicated and supportive audience.
Which means that, unlike more than half of new magazines, we have made it through the first year, and have a promising future. Promising, but also challenging. In a few years, when we have built up our subscriber and advertising base, we’ll be more or less self-sufficient. But to make it past the shoals of red ink that wreck most new magazines, we need four basic things:
We need to continue putting out an intelligent and lively magazine, one that keeps you interested and engaged, and that supports the tremendous conservation work being done locally.
We need subscribers, lots of them: for the income they bring in, for the advertisers they attract, and for the community we create together. If you’re already one of our 5,700 subscribers, many thanks. Be sure to renew early (to save us the waste and expense of repeated mailings). While you’re at it, sign up a friend for a holiday gift subscription. If you don’t already subscribe, please do!
We need more advertsers. Because we are regional and aren’t “consumer-driven,” we haven’t received ads from big corporate accounts. If you have a Bay Area business with a product or service of possible interest to our readers, please consider running an ad.
Finally, we need “Friends”; that is, folks who can support us with a tax-deductible donation above and beyond the subscription price. (See page 36 for the list of our 229 current Friends.) This support is especially crucial during these early years—economically necessary and heartening in so many other ways.
Thanks to our readers, funders, contributors, and advertisers for the tremendous support that has allowed this experiment in local environmental publishing to get off the ground. We look forward to exploring the nature of our Bay Area home with you all for years to come.