Wednesday, June 22, 2011

June farm
Yesterday was another day spent down at the creek with kids. This week was better than the first. Maybe the kids are past that joyous hysteria of being out of school, maybe the counselors are settling in, but for whatever the reason the session was a lot less frantic.

I’ve also reduced my “lesson plan” to about three minutes of telling them not to throw rocks or logs into the creek and not to step on the forest plants like they are grass. This is my kid-level version of “take only pictures, leave only footprints.” I pretty much have to spell it out for these kids. After that I hand them a net and turn them loose into the creek.

This week we caught what I’m pretty sure is the same leopard frog we caught last week. The kids also caught a whole bucketful of crayfish, ranging in size from an inch up to about 4 inches. A couple of minnows were added to the bucket during the day. The salamanders escaped unharmed this week. A toad had its home unfortunately located in a hole at the base of a beech tree, right next to the official orienteering station where the kids have to take a rubbing of a portion of a quote. By the end of the trek, they’re supposed to have the entire quote. The toad was handled by two groups of kids and then retreated to her hole, coming out only when I was in between groups of kids.

A small snake of indeterminate species also escaped their clutches, gliding away from them through the water at what looked like a snaky high gear.

The kids got happily wet. Some even didn’t scream or throw rocks, so I count that as a success.

In between groups of kids I hid from the morning rain, investigated all the ferns around my station and watched the pewees flitting back and forth. The kids saw a tiny fawn, much to their excitement. I’ve seen 5 fawns near the cabin over the past few days. Two, two and a singleton. All are now following their moms, and all are tiny, barely higher than her knees.

So far the weather has been kind, despite the bit of rain yesterday. Even so, the day was steamy and with little breeze, making 80 degrees feel quite a bit hotter than normal. At this point, next Tuesday’s weather looks to be a repeat of yesterday, which means I’ll have at least one more camp session with tolerable weather. I’m still not sure how I’ll do once the temperatures top 90 or if I have to ride out a bad storm. I just hope I won’t have that to deal with..


Scott said...

Carolyn, I don't know what you do for a living, but it doesn't sound like you enjoy escorting groups of children in the woods. The kids' relatively thoughtless molestation and manhandling of the wild critters really seems to bother you (and I don't blame you one bit).

Our organization hosts 6th-grade field days near the end of each school year. Sixth graders arrive in rowdy gangs, which then split into five smaller groups. The groups rotate among stations where the students search for salamanders, clean trash from streambanks, pull invasive plants, plant trees, and examine aquatic macroinvertebrates in a large creek. I supervise the macroinvertebrate station. I can hold the students' attention for about 10 minutes, then it's time to toss rocks, wade in the creek, and (if warm enough) go swimming. A few motivated students always hang around for more stream bugs, but I'm glad most of the kids just go off and have a good time and leave the interested students with me. I just pray that the rambunctious kids don't drown!

Carolyn H said...

Scott: Oh, no, I do enjoy working with the kids. I'm just continually surprised at how little they know about behavior in the outdoors. Apparently, no one has ever told them that tossing things, pulling bark off trees, picking flowers, etc. is not acceptable. And though i keep telling them that if they are quiet, they will see more, that one totally falls on deaf ears.

Cathy said...

Sounds like you had a fun day and the animals by now, are thinking about relocating elsewhere.

However, I do hope you don't get a thunderstorm while you're out there.. Tonight, Sussex county and few other counties in NJ, had tornado warnings posted. Looks like there was some damage done.

Where's fall?

Carolyn H said...

i heard about the NJ storms this morning. For once this year the bad storms somehow missed my area.

I set up up a sad-looking little hobo camp with one of my tent flys in case of rain. I'm going to have to work on it. What I had this past week wouldn't do much good in a downpour. I tied the fly to three little saplings. I'm starting to think I'll just have to break down and carry my tent stakes.

Scott said...

I used to lead public night walks; I love to be outside at night. But the presence of so many incessantly yammering people--and not just kids--has turned me off leading such walks. My entreaties, like yours, to be quiet so that you'll see more things are never heeded.

A few years ago, I vacationed in the Vosges Mountains on the Franco-German border. They have a "quiet zone" in the forests above a certain elevation in which visitors are expected to be quiet and respectful of the natural world. What a refreshing concept.

Carolyn H said...

Scott: I love the idea of a "quiet zone" in the woods. I wish that was a concept we could develop more here! Is the German quiet zone above treeline?? I know when I'm above treeline the silence is so deep I can breathe it. And a single rock tumbling off a hill can be heard a mile or maybe more away. I sure wouldn't want noise to intrude on that kind of silence.

Scott said...

The Vosges Mountains are not tall enough to have a treeline, so the "quiet zone" demarcation is just shown on trail maps, not on the ground.

You're right about silence above treeline--unless it's windy. The most silent place I have ever been (where it was so quiet that I noticed that the world was silent) was along a trail in Arches National Park in Utah.