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The Nature Place Day Camp - Oct Dirt
"There is no season when such pleasant and sunny spots may be lighted on, and produce so pleasant an effect on the feelings, as now in October. "

                                                        -
Nathaniel Hawthorne
 

Ed's Corner


Fish 0   Monarchs 12
The October days of late have had cool nights, blue sky days with lots of puffy fair weather clouds and a sun, that when you’re out in the middle of the day, shines on you with the kind of warmth that makes you say “ah-h-h, does that feel good!"  Yes, it’s the same sun that in the summer on a 90 degree plus mid-day would make us seek shade and elicit quite different kinds of verbal responses.

I had promised to take Nathaniel and his two friends fishing. So off we went to the newly-discovered-for-us fisherman’s parking lot and access to the Ramapo River. The Ramapo River flows along the western side of Harriman Park, and while going to and from the park trails we have passed this access area before but never drove down into it. It’s quite beautiful, almost nobody else there, open areas along the shoreline where kids and adults can easily cast their lines. This is a wide part of the river that at times feels like a pond, with still water due to the lack of recent rainfall. And the view across to the eastern bank, with trees, shrubs, wetland vegetation of all types and darting dragonflies, reminded me of scenes I encountered during some of my Canadian wilderness canoe trips. Wild, colorful, beautiful.

Read more about a different sort of fishing trip

Telling Stories


We're excited to welcome Chuck Stead, our remarkable camp storyteller-in-residence, to the Dirt!

From Chuck’s Journal, October 2014          
There is a chill in the air. The summer season has come to a close. Along the river bank the great sycamore tree is among the first to turn the color of its leaves. For us kids of Ramapo this tree was the Button Ball, named for the spherical seed pods that hung from its limbs like holiday tree ornaments. Along the Ramapo River above the Fourth Street Hillburn Dam, swimming holes were designated as Little Button Ball and Button Ball in respect to their depth. Further up river there was a third swimming hole known as Forty Foot. Over the years there was great debate as to the origin of this name. Despite much support for the claim that the spot once was forty feet deep, the sweep of the generally slow flowing Ramapo maintains a sandy bottom of seldom a greater depth than twelve feet. But there stood a grand cluster of boulders on the west bank of Forty Foot, and for the truly daring a high flung rope swing from a strong Sycamore limb offered what some claimed was a forty foot drop to the water! (Again this was at best a twenty foot drop.) Along about early October the Button Balls turned, no more black snakes could be found at Forty Foot’s boulder clutch, and only the hardiest of us dared to jump in on a warm day as the mountain springs feeding the Ramapo changed the river to a temperature below forty degrees.


           

Read more about hunting, trapping and Ricky Cramshaw

Woolly Bear Weather


We've put together a thoroughly unscientific prediction of this winter's weather, based on the few woolly bear caterpillars we've 'polled'. Woolly bears are the caterpillar of the Isabella Tiger Moth, and lore has it that the severity of a winter's snow and cold can be predicted by the woolly bear's ratio of brown to black - more black means a severe winter while more brown predicts milder weather. 

After emerging from an egg in the fall, woolly bear caterpillars actually freeze solid over the winter. Through cryoprotectant tissue properties (biological antifreeze!) woolly bear caterpillars stay alive in their overwintering icy state, to then thaw out and become moths in the warmer spring. 

While our sample is small (we found three woolly bears willing to talk to us), and we can't vouch for it's accuracy, putting this 'unscientific' predication together actually felt grounded in what we think of as the heart of true scientific inquiry - personal, hands-on experience of and curiosity toward the world around us. 

See if you think this winter will be snowy and cold or mild and warm:



Shelling Acorns
Paul Tappenden shows us what's seasonally wild and edible in our area

Recently I wrote about acorn flour. Since then several people have asked me how I go about turning acorns into flour, and this time of year is ideal for gathering acorns.

The most challenging part of processing acorns is the shelling. It can be monotonous and time consuming, so over the years I have looked for more efficient methods of removing the nutmeats. In the early days, when I only gathered small amounts of acorns, I was content to use a nutcracker or pliers. As acorn shells tend to be rather elastic, they don't crack easily, and when they do they can be hard to peel (unless they have been partially dried). However, pliers tend to end up squishing the nut meat. I tried squeezing them from the ends, but they are harder to grasp between the jaws of the pliers.

Read about Paul's acorn shelling method

Pressing Apple Cider
Open House and Cider Pressing Public Program
Saturday, November 1st, Cider from Noon - 1 pm, Open House 1 - 4 pm

Enjoying fresh cider at the recent Farmer's Festival

Grinding apples

Apples and apple cider galore! Join The Nature Place on Saturday, November 1st, beginning at Noon, as we learn about apples through the ages, receive a guest appearance from Johnny Appleseed (complete with his tin pot hat), and grind plenty of apples into fresh apple cider. 

After pressing cider, stick around for our autumn open house to learn more about The Nature Place. We'll take you on a tour of camp, view photos from summers past, and answer any questions you might have. Families can stop by our open house any time between 1 and 4 pm. 

307 Hungry Hollow Road, Chestnut Ridge, NY 10977


Rather than pulling it out as a 'weed', we kept this milkweed plant growing in the garden in hopes of attracting monarch butterflies. Milkweed is vital to the life cycle of the black and orange colored monarch, but instead of butterflies, this milkweed pod attracted another black and orange creature - the milkweed bug!

Upcoming Open House & Program



 
Saturday, November 1st
 
  • Apple Cider: Noon-1 pm
  • Open House: 1-4 pm
 

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