Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Such Things Educate

April 23, 2012
Moreau Lake State Park, NY

What are the natural features
which make a township handsome?
A river, with its waterfalls and meadows,
a lake, a hill, a cliff or individual rocks,
a forest, and ancient trees standing singly.
Such things are beautiful;
they have a high use which dollars and cents never represent.
If the inhabitants of a town were wise,
they would seek to preserve these things,
though at a considerable expense;
for such things educate far more than any hired teachers or preachers,
or any at present recognized system of school education.
  HDT’s Journal, January 3, 1861

Today was the christening-day of the new addition to the Nature Center at Moreau Lake State Park. State officials, Park staff, members of the Friends group,  Biologists, Educators –- everyone there had some sort of heartfelt connection with this special place.
Earlier this morning, it had been pouring rain, and quite chilly.
Just before the event, the clouds parted, and it turned out to be a beautiful day.
The large group of school kids, who spent the morning at the Nature Center , were the first to see and enjoy the improved space and exhibits.
After all, it is all for them.  
Gary, Dave and Rebecca talked with them about the local wildlife,
and took them out for a little hike too.

Then and only then, were the grown-ups allowed in.
As more and more guests arrived, they explored the three rooms of the Nature Center.

In contrast with our local news coverage, it was not the fantastic displays of animal life that caught my interest ...
(you can see photos of such here)

.. but rather the humans who gathered in that space.  
Reading the morning papers afterward, I wondered,
Why oh why didn’t I also take a photo of the Taxidermied Bear Family?
Perhaps … because I can see them anytime now?  I don't really know.

My camera sought instead the live examples of the more rarely-sighted Migratory Dignitaries,
and the familiar behavior of Local Inhabitants.

There were lively conversations occurring on several levels.

Soon the main room was filled with people.

More lively conversation ensued.

Speeches were made.

It's as if we were all saying to each other “Thank you for caring."

After the ribbon-cutting,

Guest lingered outside to enjoy the sunshine.

Rebecca and some of her Educator pals from nearby parks were going on
“a short walk” to see a mallard nest – did Jackie and I want come along? Sure !
John, who is doing Hognose Snake research in the park this summer,
joined us in the hopes of seeing his quarry basking in the sun.

The thing I’ve noticed about good educators – is that they are always ready to learn something new.

Rebecca led the way, but it Alli who located the nest – whoosh, out flew mama hen, from right in front of her.
Alli will be a mama soon, too, in about two months.
We cautiously gathered to admire the nest.
Inside were eleven beautiful eggs.

The “short walk” turned into an extended rambling tour along the shoreline, halfway ‘round the lake and back again. The sun was out and we were doing our own sort of basking.
All around us were symbols of birth and rebirth.  Of new beginnings.
At the New Cabin, we saw more eggs on a windowpane – from some sort of spider, perhaps ?

From the cabin’s deck, we had a fine view of the mountain across the lake.I pointed out to Alli that the mountain’s contours look like a sleeping woman.
So of course we had to test that theory out !

We also saw several dragonflies that had just hatched,

sparkly circles that turned out to be submerged pine branches,

and the very beginnings of pitch-pine cones.

But the best thing we saw today, I have saved for last.
We had been walking along the shoreline, and heard a small squeaky yelp!
There, about fifteen feet away, were two grey shapes wrassling at the foot of a tree. Squirrels ? 
No, they were fox kits ! -- fairly young too, and adorably fuzzy.  We all hooted with joy, which is when the kits realized that seven humans were staring at them. My camera caught just a glimpse as they retreated to the safety of the den. (see Jackie’s blog of this day, to see the entire critter !)

All in all, it was a great way to spend the last day of my weeklong vacation.
I was glad to spend part of it hanging out with these folks -

“Educators Gotta Educate” -!

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