I got some questions about whether we would cancel the Make Your Own storybook Hike scheduled for Upton State Forest. There had been (yet another!) nor’easter that had dumped up to 20 inches of snow in some areas, including Upton. But the snow was fluffy, and Division of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) staff members, Jody Madden and Kathryn Parent, were partnering with us for this event and did an amazing job plowing and shoveling so we could access parking and the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) building, where we managed sign-ins and made our own books after our walk.
We also had volunteers from the Blackstone Valley Heritage Corridor, who helped me with the sign ins and even caught me when I lost my balance in the deep snow! I think helping leaders maintain balance was beyond the general job description for volunteers, but Dick and Jill are pretty amazing volunteers all together. Folks from Roots in Nature also partnered with us for this event, and supplied the bulk of our attendees.
Unlike earlier events, this was not a large crowd. Rather, a small, cozy, after school group joined up, and no one was discouraged by the snow. In fact, the snow was a big part of the walk.
A few snowballs were tossed, we found bird poop in the snow, and we spotted some animal tracks in the new snow as well.
We heard red-winged black birds off in the swamp,
and examined broken branches with softening buds, an early sign of spring.
Ice and snow covered much of the swampy area we walked alongside,
and we managed to get back with no one falling into the swamp. Success!
Everyone was still smiling
when we returned to the CCC building to create our storybooks,
and kids and parents worked together to get their stories down on paper.
At the end I shared a take-home handout to encourage the continuation of the conversation and help parents, grandparents and children find more stories they might want to write about together.
Here are a few of the questions I sent home with participants, in case you were curious, and wanted to have some fun with your loved ones.
Questions for parents to ask children:
- What is your earliest memory?
- What makes you happy? And why?
- Tell me about your favorite season and why it’s your favorite?
- What do you think about when we take walks?
- If you could have one wish, what would it be?
And for kids to ask parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles or others:
- What lucky events happened in your life? Unlucky?
- Memories of big storms? Other “Act of God” happenings that caused something to change, or brought neighbors together
- Jobs—childhood—chores, neighborhood jobs, summer jobs, first “adult” jobs
- Describe a house (or apartment) that feels important to you. Be specific. The rugs, the furniture, the view out a window, street noises, smells?
- Siblings: How did you interact with them? With their friends? What were their interests?
We have more events planned, and there are always more places to visit and questions to ask (and find answers to!) Let us know what your stories are. We’re ready to listen.
Marjorie Turner Hollman is a writer who loves the outdoors, and is the author of Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, More Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, Easy Walks and Paddles in the Ten Mile River Watershed, and Finding Easy Walks Wherever You Are. Her memoir, the backstory of Easy Walks, is My Liturgy of Easy Walks: Reclaiming hope in a world turned upside down.