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The Dirt - January
"Of winter's lifeless world each tree now seems a perfect part;
Yet each one holds summer's secret deep down within its heart." 
                               - Charles G. Stater

Ed's Corner

Why I tap maple trees

In about a month from the time you receive this Dirt - around mid-February - we will begin tapping our maple trees. Since the first of the year we have received catalogs from some of the sugaring supply companies. A definite reminder that we need to order buckets and spouts.

Since I came to Rockland County in 1970 I have always been involved with maple sugaring in some way or another. If I didn't tap trees, collect the sap and boil it down into syrup during this time (approximately mid-February until the end of March), I would definitely feel something was missing.


Read more about syrup, sunlight to sap, talking trees

Winter Tales 

What is the Secret of Snow Plow Hill?

Join The Nature Place this Saturday, January 17th, from Noon - 1 pm, as we listen to Chuck Stead's winter tales. 

We'll meet downstairs in the lower school music room of Green Meadow Waldorf School, 307 Hungry Hollow Road, Chestnut Ridge, NY, 10977.

Stick around afterwards for our open house to learn more about camp!

You can view more upcoming events and open houses on the Events page of our website. 

Telling Stories

Storyteller Chuck Stead shares a chilly tale with us for this month of January.

Nasty Cold

OK, so it’s cold, its nasty cold. It’s the kind of cold that catches you, face to the wind, and sinks under your forehead to ache your brain. It’s cold. It penetrates every layer by slipping into that one open crack between the glove and the sleeve. It’s nasty cold. A small bird stands too long on an outer branch and becomes a fixed ornament. OK, it’s nasty cold.

Ice-encased pine needles and cone

There was a night when after a supper of soluble leftovers, my dad Walt got a call from his brother, my Uncle Mal, and his voice went quiet on the phone. Ricky Cramshaw and I had just dismembered a broken Kodak camera on the dining room table. We turned screws out of their little black threads and listened to Walt say, “Hello Mal. Yup, I know who Rufus Bumguard is. What?” That was when the quiet came, Uncle Mal's distant voice whispering through the telephone pressed to Walt’s ear.

When Walt got off the phone, he said, “You boys get bundled up. We’re going out.”


He said, “And gloves and hats, too. It’s nasty cold.”


More cold, ghosts, blankets, & the end of Chuck's story

Jerusalem Artichokes

Wild food forager Paul Tappenden shows us what's wild and edible in our area

Several years ago we planted some Jerusalem artichoke (sun choke) tubers in our garden. Since then, every fall we dig up dozens of tubers. Regardless of how many we remove they return every year, and have spread all throughout the area.

Yellow flowers of the Jerusalem Artichoke

They can be prepared much like other root vegetables, but unfortunately most methods of preparation result in the same problem, farts! These tasty tubers are high in inulin, a sweet fiber that ferments inside us, and creates gas. Consequently, like so many others before us, we had all but given up eating these delicious tubers, as the joy of eating them was outweighed by the repercussions. However, we have since discovered two methods of preparing them that removes the gas problem.

Jerusalem Artichoke tubers

Read more about Sun chokes: pickled, flour, meat pies

Online Registration

Instead of filling out paper enrollment forms, camp families are now able to register for camp online. We're excited to save paper and reduce some of our environmental impact, and to provide an easier, simpler registration process for parents. Families will find information from previous summers already in place, easy online access to necessary camp forms (health history, permission forms), and hopefully, will spend less time and effort enrolling in camp, and more time playing outside! Check it out for yourself and visit our Enrollment page.

Upcoming Open Houses

Saturday, January 17th
Sunday, February 15th
*Saturday, February 28th 
Sunday, March 15th
Saturday, March 28th
Sunday, April 12th
Sunday, April 26th
Saturday, May 9th
Sunday, May 24th

All open houses take place at the Green Meadow Waldorf School: 307 Hungry Hollow Road. Stop by anytime between 1-4pm.
*(11 am - 2 pm)

Non-competitive and nature-oriented, The Nature Place supports children to be themselves, with their friends, in the great outdoors. Learn more at
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