Parents of school-aged kids often look for activities for their children during school vacation. Well, 68 (give or take–it was hard to count!) children, adults, and grandparents descended upon Riverbend Farm on the most summery February morning I’ve ever seen, to join us for a “Make your own storybook” hike at Riverbend Farm.
We partnered with several area groups to reach a wider audience, and to draw in volunteers for the event as well. The Blackstone Heritage Corridor provided support through their Trail Ambassadors program, as well as assistance from their volunteer coordinator Suzanne Buchanan. Division of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) staff member Kathryn Parent, who helped me create this program, was ill, but DCR staff Jody Madden stepped in and made sure no one was left behind.
The “Roots in Nature” group brought many of their families to the event, while founder Angie Stormont stepped up to provide needed supplies to assure that each child who wanted to was able to make their own storybook.
Once we were all (more or less) gathered together we ventured beyond the towpath
and headed straight through the open field across from the visitor’s center to the banks of the Blackstone River.
The kids reveled in the sunshine and ran, and ran, and ran. But eventually we herded them over to the river.
Some wore rubber boots and stepped into the water at the river’s edge, while others without boots waded into the water anyway.
Some children thought they’d seen a whale in the canal. I expressed my doubts, and explained that any whale in the canal would be a pretty unhappy creature. Another thought we might see rabbits. Again, due to the size of our group, I suspected any rabbits in the area would make themselves scarce when they heard, felt, or saw us coming. I heard a report of a snake sighting. My sense was that this was wishful thinking, but you never know. What we did see was a river rushing by, lots of mud, foot prints of unknown origin in the mud, and lots of cat briar.
The sun came out, we shed our jackets, and experienced the changes winter provides in New England.
Yes, just a few days before we hiked here in about six inches of snow. A day or so later much of the snow was gone.
And the day of this hike, I wore shorts and a t-shirt!
We were able to use the picnic tables outside, and many families had thought ahead and brought their lunches.
So it became a sort of “picnicking-grab the book materials and create a story book” event. And it was all good.
We’re talking about having yet another event soon.
As we know, there is never a limit on the stories we can find in nature.
But first, you have to get out and spend the time taking in what is there.
Marjorie Turner Hollman
Marjorie Turner Hollman is a personal historian who loves the outdoors, and has completed two guides to Easy Walking trails in Massachusetts, “Easy Walks in Massachusetts 2nd edition,” and “More Easy Walks in Massachusetts.” A native Floridian, she came north for college and snow! Marjorie is a Certified Legacy Planner with LegacyStories.org, and is the producer of numerous veterans interviews for the Bellingham/Mendon Veteran’s History Project. http://www.marjorieturner.com