The overcast day offered cool temps, no wind, and a wonderful setting to host the most recent, “Make Your Own Storybook” walk. I have begun to think of these events as more “walk-abouts” than hikes. We never know what may happen, what we might see along the way, and how the children and parents and volunteers will interact with each other. We have no particular goal in mind, and no certain destination.
For this event we visited Foxfire Farm in Uxbridge, a private farm whose 20 acres is held in trust through the Metacomet Land Trust. Not open to the public, we were invited guests, so it was a treat to visit this special place.
The owners work hard to make their land hospitable to animals of all sorts. During our time together we heard stories of deer giving birth to fawns nearby, owls making their nests and fledging baby owls within sight of where we sat to make our books. The farm is especially careful to nurture milkweed for the benefit of the migrating monarch butterflies. It is also a site often used for bird banding, and the multiple bird species that frequent the area is a testament to the plentiful food the birds find in the area.
Having visited the farm before, my thought was to head straight over to the brook on the property, to see the small waterfall, and remnants of an old mill. But Ann, who knows her farm so well and has hosted many groups before us, suggested we take a stroll through the meadow first. What a good idea!
Soon Ann was calling the children over to break open milkweed pods and toss thousands of seeds into the wind. Young and old joined in on the fun. A Monarch butterfly showed up to remind us of why it is important to allow the milkweed to flourish. Bees buzzed amongst the thousands of mint bushes. Children picked mint leaves and inhaled the strong scents of the plants that filled the meadow.
Soon Ann was the pied piper, leading the children over to the brook. She waded into the wetlands on the edge of the brook and grabbed a cat tail for the children to examine more closely.
Like the milkweed, the cattail was soon getting picked apart and before we knew it, every child was covered in cattail fuzz.
Onto the waterfall we went, and while the water is low in the fall, the sound of rushing water was audible no matter where we stood. Our more adventurous ones soon crossed the wooden bridge to get closer to the rushing stream.
We lost only one hat, plucked from Dad’s head and dropped into the river. All the people managed to stay dry.
On our way back to make our books, we stopped to visit the ponies in their barn.
Those who were willing offered the ponies chunks of carrots.
And Pied Piper Ann took the oldest children to the hayloft for a better view of the farm.
Resident dog Chippy played with the children until he was exhausted and begged to be let into the house for a rest. But he came out later to check up on how the stories were coming along.
Cattails, turkey feathers, Monarch butterflies, and more made it into the stories. The highlight for others was being allowed to sit up and “drive” the farm tractor. Who knew our walk-about would turn into a “touch a truck” event?
Thanks to all the volunteers who helped make this such a fun time. Only a few days remain in an eventful month of “Go!” events, a month filled with amazing opportunities to “Go!” to the Blackstone Valley to explore all this wonderful area has to offer. The smiles on the faces while we were together told the story. Thanks to our partners, the Blackstone Heritage Corridor and the Metacomet Land Trust, for making sure this was such a successful experience for all of us. Till next time.
Marjorie Turner Hollman is a personal historian who loves the outdoors, and is the author of Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, More Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, and editor of Easy Walks and Paddles in the Ten Mile River Watershed. Just out is her latest book, Finding Easy Walks Wherever You Are. She has been a freelance writer for numerous local, regional, and national publications for the past 20+ years, has helped numerous families to save their stories, and has recorded multiple veterans oral histories, now housed at the Library of Congress. She is a co-author of the recent community history, Bellingham Now and Then.