Archives for posts with tag: wildflower fields

Last Wednesday the 7th graders met with Douglas, one of the maintenance workers here at Avalon Park and Preserve, for a lesson in what it takes to keep the park looking the way it does.   Sometimes we forget about the work behind the scenes.  It’s important for us to appreciate the amount of work it takes to keep this park a peaceful and relaxing place to visit.

Douglas started out with a brief history of the Park talking about the acreage and the different parts of the park.  Next he pulled out the chainsaws and talked about he engines and the blades and how important the maintenance of  these machines were.  They all got to look at the chains up close and also got to feel the weight of different sized chainsaws. Developing respect for the machinery is important because it can be deadly if not taken seriously.  Douglas again showed the tools and the other machinery that the staff uses to maintain the grounds.

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The big machines were the best, especially when he pulled out a small tractor that he explained, they use to cut the wildflower fields down in the spring.  There were definitely surprised to hear about this.  They were all lucky enough to sample the tractor firsthand.  Their smiles were so big!!!


Aidan in a welding mask! “I never saw one of these before!”


Brandon at the wheel!


Finally we went out for our hike in the dark!!!  Awesome!!! We heard our friendly great horned owl… who who whoo!

As we walked through the fields Douglas recited poetry…

Robert Frost

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer 5
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake. 10
The only other sounds the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep, 15
And miles to go before I sleep.


What better place to hear this poem than in to middle of a field in the dark.  Bravo Douglas!!!

As we ended our hike he recited one more poem:

’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!”

He took his vorpal sword in hand;
Long time the manxome foe he sought—
So rested he by the Tumtum tree
And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

“And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”
He chortled in his joy.

’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.


A perfect ending to a perfect night! Thank you so much Douglas for filling our minds with a new appreciation for the woods at night  and poetry!


The Crew!

The Crew!



Howdy all!! Today was a super fantastic day where the topic was apples… yes apples.  We read one of my old favorites by Dr Seuss, “Ten Apples on Top.”  I loved how engaged the kids were as we watched these silly animals balance apples on their heads!!  There’s just something about reading a book to a child… they will stop and listen and enjoy. So magical.

Anyway, we did our apple tasting and checked out the seeds, also known as pips.  If the child did not want to eat the apple I encouraged them to touch, smell or put their tongue on the apple.  Little steps of exploration .. ….

As you may have noticed the title of today’s blog is Sparkles and Shadows.  I prefer to write about what struck me as the best moments of our time together. Today it was our hike!

We walked and ran down the wildflower field trails.  Surrounded by walls of brown flowers that once were yellow, brown and purple. I looked up into the sky and realized how amazingly blue it was.  I decided it was a great time to lay right down on the ground and look up at the sky. I asked what the clouds made of and someone said, “stuffing.”  So precious!  All the kids joined me as we looked up into the endless sky.  Wonderful.  It was only a short moment but oh so amazing to be human… then thump! One of the kids decided to sit right down on my belly!!  So funny.  In the meantime all the parents were standing there watching.  Why oh why didn’t they get on the ground with us??? (I’m sure some of them wanted to !!)

As we picked off the seeds that were stuck to my shirt we continued our short journey to an apple tree that had only a few apples on it. Last year it was abundant with apples and many were on the ground.  Oh well so much for that lesson.

But the best part was yet to come… sparkle and shadows!

As we were getting ready to leave there was this amazing rock lit by the sun!  It sparkled like crazy!  The kids ran to it and climbed all over it inspecting the inlayed jewels.  How magical.  One of the girls said, “It’s like they threw sparkles on it!”  So wonderful

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Before we left the sparkly rock I noticed my shadow and began to try to run away from it.  Then I challenged the kids by saying, “don’t step on my shadow!”  They laughed and chased my shadow.  The sun went behind the clouds and the shadow faded… some of them realized why it went away.  Not bad for preschoolers!  The parents traced some of their children’s shadows and we left them there to lay in the bright warm sun!  The tracings that is, not the kids!!!


It was a great Fall day in Avalon.  Love being outside with the kids and their parents!

Get outside, there’s so much to explore!


ImageSummer 2013


Yes, those beautiful flowers and helpful bugs are still in a state of stillness, but in preparation of things to come I thought it would be fun to utilize the skeletons of summer and spring past.



So our troops of Kindergartners and 1st through 3rd graders bundled up and went hunting for the remnants of milkweed, evening primrose, bee balm, goldenrod, purple cone flowers.  It was a great opportunity to take a look at the idea of how strong mother nature made these plants so that they can flick about in the wind and disperse their seeds.


It was awesome to see the kids sharing what they picked.  Our goal was not only to find our own but make a wildflower sculpture to take home.

The older kids and I went deep into the jungle of the field.  Letting them lead the way they hunted and found many interesting things.

I couldn’t help myself and let out a lot of wooops while we were walking.  It was very cold and windy but it just felt so good to let out the screams of joy….. although at one point one of the boys told me I ” didn’t need to do that anymore!”  Haha… what can I say I was just so excited….

Both Jack and Rylie found praying mantis egg cases!!!  We added them to the 200 cases that the teenagers from S.T.A.T.E. found over the weekend  Pretty cool treasure to find.

More than anything these kids are developing a confidence to lead and also to work together as a group. Something I believe is a result of playing outside.  They have to take chances  in an environment which they might not be used to. In the end  they realize  can do it!





After we hunted for a while we returned to the barn to make these!!!

Ta da!!!

They all left with pictures of what these flowers will look like when they bloom this year and a magnificent sculpture created by them!


Love the rosy cheeks and also how one of the sculptures has a milkweed with seeds still intact. (like a cradle)  Another lucky find.

Until next week…… GET OUTSIDE!!!  Seriously

Peace and warmth, Sue




Perfect Fall day!

We wandered around the trail on a color hunt!  Looking for reds, yellows, oranges, greens, browns and blues.  It was a fun way to get the kids and moms and grand moms to work together.  Along the way we stopped and talked and I punch their color cards with my “smelly feet” hole punch.  They were all working towards getting all the colors identified and  receiving an acorn necklace and beads for their hard work!

Here are some fun pics.  Love to see the moms smiling along with the kids!



Today was a glorious day for taking a look at some of our trees at Avalon.  Most notably the Black Walnut and the Hickory Tree!

Both produce these interesting multilayered nuts. But most of all they are exciting to SMASH open.  That’s exactly what we did.  Each of my enthusiatic outdoor-kids were ready to take a turn breaking open these nuts.  How do those squirrels do it????

We tasted the black walnut which Shannon said had a strawberry flavor in it!!  They were yummy.   These odd looking nuts are hidden undercover on the trees inside these lime colored looking fruits.  When they are ready, they drop to the ground and proceed to rot and turn black.  Before you can get to the nutty insides you have to peel away a messy dirty layer…..  yuck…  then there is the treasure!

But first how do we get to the inside.  Well luckily Miss Sue did some research beforehand and she brought the wrench for holding the nut (also to protect her hands from getting smashed) and a hammer.   Before long they were cracked open!   Everyone was eager to try it.

We were less successful with the hickory nuts, of which are all over the place but dried out inside… what a disappointment. But lot’s of fun to collect!


We continued our walk along the wildflower fields which are slowly turning brown… with seeds all ready to fall to the ground for next year’s blooms.  The milkweed plants are in their glory with all of their pods popping open to reveal the amazing layers of seeds attached to little “wish” machines which will help the seeds float away to their new homes!


Amazing milkweed, amazing smile!

Happy Trails





ImageBenjamin was so excited to show me how he could skip!  So when we started our hike in the wildflower fields he took off in his bright yellow shirt skipping all the way!  He skipped and skipped and before you know it there were more skippers or hoppers or runners following him.  It was contagious.  So much so that I joined in the fun.  All that counted at that moment was the kids were free and doing what they wanted. So fun!

Maybe we could have skipping day at work???  Wouldn’t it be funny to watch your co-workers skip to the coffee room.  Ha!!!

Skipping is an acquired skill.  We don’t just skip…. our body has to be ready to skip.   Most kids will skip by 5 but don’t fret if your child is not quite there yet!  Get our there and  skip or perhaps gallop, another acquired skill.  Add on horse neighs and you’re really multitasking. Whew!

To see all these children back at Avalon doing what they belong doing is precious.  No cell phones, no  video games…. just pure organic fun.

Some kids chose to walk and that was just as good.  There was more time to look for flowers and bugs.  It’s all good!

Today I took a walk at Avalon where I will begin my Fall classes next week.  It was nice to visit the trail  with my dog Lucy and stroll through the swaying  trees. There are so many places that make me smile and I can almost hear the kid’s voices as I walk through different parts of the park.


The quiet and still pond with frogs relaxing on the rocks.  Duckweed floating aimlessly through the water.  Although I am surrounded with noises from the birds and the trickling of the waterfall, the sounds of laughter and excitement are missing., but secretly I hear them in my head.  I smile.  All the frogs that the kids caught, kids falling in the pond….. constant activity.

All is quiet…….  for now!


We continued on walking toward the wildflower fields to see which flowers were in  bloom.  I saw a milkweed bug and it made me laugh.  The memories of us running around the fields capturing bugs and always  holding true to the promise that we would let them go when we were finished exploring.  We were hunters and the atmosphere was electric!!!!

  Some flowers remain and the the milkweed pods are almost ready to burst.


Finally we made it to the Barn and into the garden.  There were still nasturtium blooming.  I remember some of the kids tasting the peppery flower that our preschoolers planted. ” Blech! ” “Yum!” “My mother would like that!”

Our trellis for the beans lay like a sleeping baby…. next spring we will begin again!


I am looking forward to meeting new families and welcoming back some of our returning families!

We are going to have a blast and create more memories to share.

Keep on hikin



Today something happened that involved nature of a different kind here at Avalon Camp…..Human Nature…. funny and charming at the same time.

We set out for our bug collection in the wildflower fields.  Gavin  was determined to catch a butterfly.  He had no interest in using a bug jar just the blue net. Every time someone called out “butterfly” he ran so fast and attempted to capture it.  No luck swipe after swipe after swipe…. nothing. No reward.  Along the way another camper, Brennos  became interested in the same quest.  He began to follow the Gavin around.  I could tell that the original butterfly hunter Gavin was a little annoyed, after all he wanted the glory of the capture.  But they worked in parallel. I encouraged them to hunt quietly and slowly.  Minutes passed …. 10, 20, 40, 50 minutes ticked away.  Time to head back to the waiting parents.   No butterfly…. a bit of sadness flickered in Gavin’s  eyes but he was not giving up.

As we headed back to the barn Brennos began to tell me the philosophy he imparted to Gavin.  It went like this, ” I told Gavin to catch a butterfly you have to spot it then FOCUS in order to catch it.”  What a wise young soul.  I could tell he was proud of his advice.  I am not so sure that Gavin felt the same, I think he had butterflies on the brain and was just determined.

Perhaps though he did listen because at the very last minute before we turned the corner to face the parents guess what happened?

ImageHe Focused and caught his Cabbage White Butterfly!!!  SUCCESS!!!!