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The Nature Place Day Camp - Nov Dirt
"It is a joy to walk in the bare woods.
The moonlight is not broken by the heavy leaves.
The leaves are down, and touching the soaked earth,
Giving off the odors that partridges love."

Robert Bly


In this season of the earth's disrobing, as animals and plants and the cold ground are drawn inward toward the magnet of winter, we at The Nature Place are especially grateful for the people who live, work, and play around us. Nature's slow-down provides a clarifying canvas against which we see our fellow humans, who somehow shine brighter now than in autumn's colors or summer's heat. If you are one of these people (and if you're reading this, you are), we're feeling especially grateful for you at this time of year. 

Ed's Corner


As I write this in mid-November I'm looking out my office window at the magnificent, redder-than-red leaves of a Japanese Maple. Others have recently said to me how striking the Japanese Maples appear this year, as if inside each there was an internal glowing furnace of red.

They truly may be a brighter red color than other seasons but they also may catch our attention more because of the contrasts. Most other leaves have fallen, or if they are still on their tree or bush they are of a muted color. Overcast, gray days also provide a contrast.

The natural world is filled with contrasts:  the seasons themselves, the weather, how it's great to be out on a cold day and then soul-satisfying to come into a warm, inviting space, maybe even one with a fireplace or wood stove.

Maybe not a contrast but certainly something we didn't notice until the leaves began to fall, is the hornets' nest securely attached to the Ginkgo tree on the lawn behind Holder House. This lawn area serves as a daily dismissal site at the end of each of our camp days. I received no reports this past summer about the nest, nor were there any stings from this nest in the nurse's log. So here was a new treasure for us.


Read about a hornets' nest surprise on the Tappan Zee Bridge!

Telling Stories

Storyteller Chuck Stead shares a Thanksgiving tale with us for this month of November.

My mom Tessie was not known for her cooking. Her meat was dry, her beans watery, her potatoes lumpy but she found salvation in her apple pie. Her pie crust was light and delicate and still firm, and a slice was packed with warm, sweet apples like a little vessel from heaven. Few folks favored Tessie’s apple pie as did my friend Ricky Cramshaw. For Ricky, whose own mother and grandmother produced a delicious Thanksgiving meal each year, the end was always a slice of Tessie’s apple pie, for as his grandmother used to say, “Everything is better with Tessie’s pie.” 

Thanksgiving - with the deep chill, the last of the muddy rust forest as the world adjusted to dark grays and brown in wait for the first snow - was the traditional first week of gunning season for deer. The sight of woolen wrapped men carrying shotguns into the woods, the distant sound of twelve gauge ‘pop’ and the return of men dragging a buck cleaned of its interior, this was the eve of winter. Thanksgiving, not unlike the Fall Harvest, not unlike the Algonquin Gamwing, was a ceremonial meal heralding survival, community and the continuance of family.

Tessie started her meal preparations the night before, and the first guests to arrive an hour or so after noon the next day were tasked with arranging tables and chairs, plates and utensils. Leading up to the three o’clock meal an expected bustle of energy filled the cramped little house in our village. This despite the fact that no one had any delusions as to the quality of Tessie’s spread. She was a black-hearted Irishwoman who did not cook food as much as kill it, but there was always her apple pie in the end. Everything was better with Tessie’s pie.

As we came to settle in, Walt and a couple of uncles finished their smoke and sauntered in to one end of the table. Cousins found seating and snatched a fresh roll or two while talking about their different schools, plans for the holidays and gossip about distant relatives. And then there was Patty. A friend of my sister’s, she sat across the way and was very quiet. I did not know this girl, only Terry knew her. She was invited at the last minute, something about needing cheering up and about her family not understanding. I thought she was very pretty in a far-away kind of way. As we neared desert time, the supper dishes were being cleared and the men started to talk about the Vietnam War, there was some disagreement and that was when Patty got up, left the table and went out the back door. The pies were about to be laid out along with ice cream, milk and coffee. Ricky Cramshaw walked in from the back door all filled up with his parents’ meal and looking for Tessie’s apple pie.


Read the conclusion of Patty, pie, and a poignant Thanksgiving

Fall Fruit Newtons
Paul Tappenden shows us what's seasonally wild and edible in our area

It is well into fall, and for the past few months I have been gathering, preserving, drying and freezing wild foods in preparation for the winter. The other day I arrived home from a foraging trip with some wild apples and a pocketful of barberries. It was a friend's birthday and I decided to make him some pastries. After weeks of processing acorns and feeding them to my mill, I had several bags of acorn flour in the freezer. Since I'd use any excuse to do some baking, I decided to make some Autumn fruit newtons.


Read how to make fruit newtons and see Paul's final results

Upcoming Events
Beginning after the new year we'll be hosting public programs for campers and their families, and for anyone else interested in experiencing a 'taste of camp' before summer begins. 

Winter Tales with Chuck Stead
Saturday, January 17th. Noon - 1 pm.

Chuck Stead is a master storyteller, weaving a web of characters and scenes from his childhood growing up in the nearby Ramapo Mountains. Populated by animals, spirits, mountain people, and more, Chuck's tales are knee-slapping, laugh-out-loud funny, goose-bump inducing in their poignancy, and enjoyed thoroughly by children and adults alike. 

Maple Sugaring
Saturday, February 28th. 10 - 11 am and 2 - 3 pm.

Join The Nature Place as we learn all about maple trees and maple syrup, tap our own trees and taste the sap, watch sap boiling over a fire, and then taste freshly made, hot maple syrup over ice (accompanied by a dill pickle, of course). Participants will take home their own spouts, along with instructions on how to tap maple trees and make syrup at home. 

This year we're offering this program twice, once at 10 am and then again at 2 pm. 

Outragehisss Pets
Saturday, March 28th. Noon - 1 pm. 

If you like animals, then this program will have you barking, chirping, and roaring with glee. Every summer at camp Outragehisss Pets brings their multitude of animals to The Nature Place, and now you can get your hands furry without waiting until June. Join us for an hour of snakes, spiders, chinchillas, and an array of other surprising animals. 

Spring Peeper Hunt
Saturday, May 2nd. 7:30 - 9 pm. 

As darkness falls The Nature Place will lead intrepid explorers into the swamp in search of spring peepers - tiny frogs with big voices pealing out into the warm spring air. Using our ears and echo-locating abilities, and equipped with boots, flashlights, and a sense of adventure, we'll search for spring peepers by following the loud 'peep!' of their mating call through the hillocks and brambles of a nearby wetland. Come prepared to have fun and get a little dirty!

Camp Fairs

Do you live in Manhattan or Brooklyn and want to find out more about The Nature Place? Come meet us at a camp fair, ask us questions about camp in person, and get a feeling for what we do. 

See a full list of our upcoming camp fairs

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 enables children to be themselves, with their friends, in the great outdoors. Learn more at
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