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The Dirt - September
The breezes taste
Of apple peel.
The air is full
Of smells to feel- 
Ripe fruit, old footballs,
Burning brush,
New books, erasers,
Chalk, and such.
The bee, his hive,
Well-honeyed hum,
And Mother cuts
Like plates washed clean
With suds, the days
Are polished with
A morning haze.

                       -John Updike, September

Ed's Corner

I write this on the day when heavy rains and thunderstorms are predicted for the evening. These will break the long spell of very hot, very dry weather we have experienced for some time. The grass and lawns are brown and dried. The dry conditions are causing quite a few leaves to change color (mostly dry browns and yellows) and to fall. The air is hazy. Gardeners have had to water their very thirsty plants. Hikers must carry more than the usual amount of water with them, and the danger of wildfires is high. I wonder if apples will be smaller?
How we appreciate a glass of ice cold water on these days. And when outdoors, the shade. Or a little breeze. Or even the sun going behind a cloud for a minute.

And soon, when this hot and dry spell turns cooler and more leaves are on the ground than on the trees, just the opposite will be true: the sun coming out from behind a cloud will warm our faces, and we'll be glad for it's shining! 

When we're paying attention nature gives us small things to appreciate, like water, shade or sun, a small breeze. Things we might otherwise not notice. It also reminds us that our real needs are very basic and that the earth can help us to meet them. And maybe, upon realizing this, we can cultivate an attitude of gratitude for what we naturally have. 

Early Bird Enrollment

Our early bird enrollment ends soon - on Thursday, October 1st. Pay in full by then and receive 7.5% off the cost of camp tuition for summer 2016!

Enroll here. 

Early Bird
Oh, if you’re a bird, be an early bird
And catch the worm for your breakfast plate.
If you’re a bird, be an early early bird-
But if you’re a worm, sleep late.

                               -Shel Silverstein

Fall Events

Farm to Table Dinner to benefit the Pfeiffer Center
Saturday, September 19th, beginning at 6 pm.

Mac, Peter, and some of our other friends from the Pfeiffer Center host a Farm to Table Dinner - with food that your campers helped grow and care for just a short time ago during July and August!
The evening begins in the garden, then on to hors d'oeuvres, and finally a candle-lit dinner (complete with wine) prepared by Threefold Cafe chef Charlie Miller.
Please see event details and order your tickets here.

Green Meadow Fall Fair 
Saturday, October 10th. 10 am - 5 pm.

Come say 'Hi!' to us at Green Meadow Waldorf School's annual Fall Fair as we press apples into cider. This event brings all that is fall into one festive day - pumpkin carving, hay rides, candle-dipping, handcrafted clothing and toys, great live music, tasty food, and don't forget about apples and apple cider! 

307 Hungry Hollow Road in Chestnut Ridge, NY 10977. 

Autumn Cider Pressing and Camp Open House
Saturday, October 24th.
Pressing Cider @ 1 pm, Open House anytime between 1 and 4 pm. 

Join us at camp on Saturday, October 24th to learn more about The Nature Place, take a tour of where we play and learn during summer, meet us, and ask all sorts of questions about our program. 

We'll begin our open house with an autumn nature walk and apple pressing (and scrumptious tasting, of course!) at 1 pm, so be sure to arrive then if you're interested in attending this last apple cidering program of our fall cider season. 

Lots of Fall

This month begins the time of year when nature lets go of a lot! The 'Lots of Fall' includes leaves, seeds, nuts, and other earthly treasures.

Here are some fun activities we can do with the Lots of Fall:
As the leaves really begin to drop, place containers of different types on the ground around the tree and check on them every day. Which collect the most? You can use buckets, boxes, small tarp, bowls, but do be careful with great-great grandma's Ming Dynasty vase.
On a really good leaf falling day, lay your bodies on the ground around the tree and lie still for a while - at least 15 minutes, and then get up and see how many leaves have  fallen on you!

Do you see a bird or a few birds pecking at the dry or dead heads of flowers, or gathered under one or two particular trees? Those birds have most likely discovered a bonanza of nutritious seeds within that flower, or some fallen nuts under the tree. 
When there are only scattered leaves left on the tree, focus on just one of them, in hopes that you will see THAT one at the exact moment it lets go.
The color season is soon upon us. Take one colored leaf, squish it up - squish, squish, squish - smell it - and then rub it on a piece of paper that is on a book, the sidewalk or other kind of hard backing. The leaf color will come out on the paper!
Can you find a fallen nut that has been chewed and eaten just so, that it looks like a face?
From the photos following you might be able to tell that we have been face-hunting in nature, too.


See four more funny nature faces

Pacem in Terris

Chuck Stead offers us a timely story of Popes and peace for September

At this time, with Pope Francis' recent encyclical on climate change, I am reminded of another Pope’s outspoken encyclical back in the days of my Ramapo Stories. Pope Saint John XXIII wrote in protest of the expansionist wars of the early 1960s, a message for peace entitled Pacem in Terris (Peace on Earth). It was addressed to the Catholic World and “to all men and women of good will”.  Just as the current Pope Francis has stirred opposition with his defense of 'Mother Earth', Pope Saint John rattled the stalwarts of industry and profiteering with his call for peace, to say nothing of rattling my mom Tessie’s nerves.

It was the middle of September and a warm Saturday morning on the back porch of my folks' house. Ricky Cramshaw and I were sharing stories about our return to our respective schools: he went to the Suffern Public School and I went to the Catholic school directly across from it on Washington Avenue. These were not happy stories, as we both dreaded our return to school after a summer of freedom. At some point we got into a discussion on the smell of autumn. Ricky observed that the Fall Season smelled like “rotting dead things”, but no quite so bad as that. It was the perfume of drying leaves along with the scent of ripe fruit: apples, pears, pumpkins and the like. Such a distinct autumn aroma teased classroom-bound kids to escape their books.

We were in agreement that September was a hard month to get through when Ricky suddenly said to me, “Hey, my grandma says your Cat-o-lick Pope is a trouble maker.”

Read the rest of Chuck's story of popes and peace

Monarchs on Milkweed

Daniel Bieber

In May, when we published our last Dirt before summer, I wrote about the wild milkweed plants coming up in and around my garden. I wrote without much hope that these plants would in fact contribute to the propagation of the endangered monarch butterfly. Rather, I thought that nothing would happen, and that the milkweed plants growing in my yard would turn brown and die with the cold nights of autumn. Occasionally through this busy summer I've glanced over at the tall, pod-laden plants, but not once have I seen a monarch nearby, nor any butterfly or caterpillar, for that matter. 

But lo and behold, just a few days ago, when stepping outside after the much needed rainfall we received, I found a sight that gladdened me, and in fact gave me hope for our whole planet! As crazy as that might sound...

These are two of the four total monarch caterpillars I spotted gnawing away at my milkweed plants! These caterpillars will spin chrysalids on the milkweed any day now, and when the subsequent monarch butterflies emerge they will start migrating toward Mexico. Descendants of these same caterpillars will return from Mexico after the cold winter and most of spring has passed - living off of and laying eggs on milkweed plants that are hopefully growing again in my yard. 

I like to think that by paying attention and not interfering too much, by just leaving some milkweed to grow, I'm helping nature steer a quiet course correction. I then spend my summer feeling OK about my contribution to our planet - thinking, "Well at least I'm growing milkweed!".

But then nature really hands it to me, and actual monarch caterpillars appear on my milkweed, and I am emboldened by faith in our intelligent world. 

Upcoming Open House

Saturday, October 24th

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