Teaching children about nature in the spring is like trying to herd cats, to use a now well-known analogy. Spring fever is rampant. Kids are excited because the sun is out and the trees are turning green and the flowers are blooming and the birds are singing and … well, you get the picture.
The energy that comes with the season seems to infect children the most, not above the frogs and birds, of course. Needless to say, a Discovery Walk is less discovery than focused wildness. The sunshine (or rain) is good for them, though, and just letting them know that being outside is a good thing is worth it. Ask me in June and I may revise my answer, but right now, sharing the joys of spring with kids is a highlight.
Of course, add to this work chaos the home chores and that really explains the tiredness. Tilling the garden, planting seeds, mowing the grass, washing windows, spring cleaning, weeding, transplanting, and projects all get added to the list in the spring. Don’t get me wrong, I love working in my garden. I would spend hours there if I could. I also confess I like the meditative state I reach while mowing my grass — the smell of the grass, the rumble of the engine, the vibrations in my hands. It all adds up to a bizarre sensory experience that allows me to clear my head and find myself again. I check my seedlings as if they were children needing supervision, yet I trust completely that they know what to do to provide me tomatoes, squash, beans and more, come harvest. They are all still chores, however enjoyable they are.
So with the crunch of kids at work and everything to do at home, I certainly need a break by the end of May to enjoy the spring fever in my own way.
I am looking forward to a weekend in the woods with some great friends and other people there to enjoy the outdoors. We all get a cabin and we spend the weekend eating campfire food and junk, hiking in the woods, catching snakes and frogs, and identifying wildflowers. We play Frisbee and look at birds, and get goofy and a little prankster-esque at evening. The best part is that there is no to-do list and no calendar filled with school children. I can actually play in the woods, which I seem to not have time for at home.
Walking through a stream, and letting the water seep through your shoes, is a pleasure that we don’t allow ourselves nearly often enough. Casually strolling through a field to look at birds, butterflies and flowers is another. Playing a game of catch with a friend ranks up there with the rare pleasures, too. In the most beautiful season of the year, we get so caught up in the to-do’s that we forget to partake of the beauty.
The Allegany Nature Pilgrimage is the weekend to which I’m looking forward. It’s May 30 to June 1 and the whole idea is to get out in the woods and have a good time. The event is held at Allegany State Park and is the only nature pilgrimage in the area.
There are a host of walks, from ferns to birds to geology, and opportunities to learn abound. It’s a celebration of nature and people who love nature. There are cabins or campgrounds and it’s a small fee for such a fabulous weekend. It’s just $40 for all the programs and you can download the schedule at http://www.allegany-nature-pilgrimage.org, which also has information about the featured speakers. The event is sponsored by Buffalo Audubon, Jamestown Audubon, Presque Isle Audubon and Burroughs Nature Club.
To visit Jamestown Audubon, stop by between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday, to check out the nature center. On Sundays, the center is open from 1 to 4:30 p.m. and the trails are open daily from dawn to dusk, as is the Liberty viewing area. We are located off Route 62 between Warren and Jamestown on Riverside Road. Call 569-2345 for more information or visit our Web sites, www.jamestownaudubon.org or www.jamestownaudubon.wordpress.com.
Sarah Hatfield is a naturalist at Audubon and anticipates this weekend in the woods with friends as a highlight of the year.
Photo by Jennifer Schlick
Recreation with friends is part of the Allegany Nature Pilgrimage weekend.