Reflections by HCT walk leader, naturalist, and Kripalu Mindful Outdoor Guide Andrea Higgins.
Photos courtesy of SAIL and SHORE staff and parents.
Students and Staff from Monomoy High School joined me this morning at the beautiful 66-acre Robert F. Smith Cold Brook Preserve in the heart of Harwich Port. We began our morning with some gentle stretches, breathing exercises, and a mindful outdoor nature experience focusing on the sights, sounds, smells, and textures of the sanctuary.
We were surrounded by an incredible landscape filled with flowers and plants in every color of the rainbow. Red vegetation and purple and pink flowers were growing in and around the bog next to Cold Brook, orange mushrooms sprouted alongside the trail, and buttery yellow buttonbush flowers attracted bumble bees to pollinate. Greens in every shade from chartreuse to deep forest were found in the pine needles, oak leaves, cherry tree foliage, and algae waving to us from the currents of Cold Brook. The blue sky peeked out from behind incredible fluffy white clouds.
Students sat on a bench surrounded by pine to pause and take a few deep breaths of fresh air. Foraging in the undergrowth surrounding our resting spot, we inhaled the minty fragrance of wintergreen (aka teaberry or checkerberry), the citrusy fresh smell of the bayberry leaves, and tasted ripe black raspberries.
We continued our saunter along the trail and came upon a set of deer tracks, spurring a conversation about animal sign. Over the course of our walk, we also discovered several cottontail rabbits, rabbit scat, coyote scat, otter scat, and two otter slides.
Sitting on the trail while enjoying snacks and beverages, I shared loads of facts about the American river otter, followed by a Q&A session. Next, I read North American River Otter by Ellen Lawrence and passed around two stuffed animal otters, an otter track cast, photos of an otter slide, and two tracking books.
Continuing our search saunter, we gathered under an enormous oak tree, grateful for the shade it provided. I brought out large sheets of construction paper, markers, colored pencils, and crayons and invited students to create an image of something they experienced on our walk together. Students created wonderful art depicting trees, otters, plants, and black raspberries.
Leading students and staff down the trails and back to the parking lot, I enjoyed overhearing conversations about how much fun they had together on this spectacular summer day. I am already looking forward to our next adventure together!