On Saturday December 11, we ventured out for nature walks at the Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary in Topsfield, MA. It was a beautiful and relatively warm day in the mid-40s. Our group consisted of 11 Cape Verdean middle school children from St. Peter’s; Shawn, the St. Peter’s coordinator; and six Boston ICO volunteers.
Anne, the trip leader, had a great set of games for us to play, some facilitated by her Mr. Owl stuffed animal, which we initially used during a round-robin game of introductions in the Nature Center building. Outside, we played a couple rounds of whispered telephone, and despite one English-to-Creole-to-English detour, the “This is a lovely place!” message came through loud and clear. We scrambled up some rocky paths, wound our way around the lake, marveled at the various beaver dams and lodges, searched for forked branch slingshots amidst nature’s bounty, spotted a salamander, watched as the chameleon-like kids melted into the woods during a game of hide and seek, tested our listening skills by silently tuning into our surroundings for two minutes, debated the merits and demerits of birdfeeders and raptor-feeders, stood captivated at the sight of a hundred Canadian geese noisily rerouting their path overhead, and nodded in approval at a particularly good imitation of Michael Jackson’s moonwalk. Our hunt for a live owl or even its pellets among the hemlock trees was eventually substituted for a game of Find Mr. Owl, which tested the kids’ impressive observational skills. For some, including this volunteer, the best part of the day was seeing the children, silent and with palms outstretched towards the sky, conjure forth tiny chickadee birds to eat seeds from their hands. Unclear who took more pleasure in that offering: the birds, the children, or the adult observers.
Click here for photos:
Many thanks to Anne for leading us and teaching us so much about beavers, trees, and the natural world; to Chris for handling the driving and food; to Amy for the photography; to Deborah for her continued videography (on behalf of the Massachusetts Sierra Club); and to An for joining us as a new volunteer.