Reflections by HCT walk leader, naturalist, and Kripalu Mindful Outdoor Guide Andrea Higgins.
Photos courtesy of SAIL and SHORE staff and parents.
Harwich Conservation Trust’s beautiful 49-acre Pleasant Bay Woodlands hosted our August 2nd SAIL SHORE to SHORE outdoor classroom adventure. With brilliant blue skies and abundant sunshine, it was an absolutely perfect summer morning to share the wonders of nature. Students disembarked from buses and vans with smiles on their faces, ready to uncover the treasures of this incredible sanctuary with its lovely white pines, beautiful butterfly meadows, strong sturdy oak trees, and high bush blueberry bushes.
After sharing our plans for the morning, we set out on the cartway to a shaded area to discuss plant identification and create a complimentary art project. Students laid out dark colored shirts brought from home along the path to set the stage for our project. I had prepared a couple of buckets with plant clippings and reviewed the names of each species with students and staff. After examining the selection of ferns, oak leaves, grasses, pine needles, bittersweet vines, sassafras leaves, lavender sprigs, yarrow, bayberry leaves and sweet pepper leaves, each participant selected and organized their favorite clippings in unique designs across the shirts. Next, I spritzed the shirts with a solution of water and bleach and we set out for a search saunter as our creations dried in the sunshine.
We welcomed the cooler temperatures as the forest treated us to shade and gentle breezes. Under the cover of feathery soft white pine needles, we paused to listen and were delighted to hear a chorus of chickadees singing their sweet cheerful melodies. Next, we admired the white pine needles and their bundles of five soft needles, noting the contrast between the white pine’s soft needles and the prickly needles of the pitch pine.
Arriving at an “eagle’s nest” created by Preschool Explorers last year, we paused for students to add more sticks and branches to build its size, then we enjoyed some snacks before setting back off on the trails. We left the shade of the woods and found a sandy path leading to bogs filled with ripening cranberries. Along the way we spotted a toad in the path and dragonflies and butterflies flitting about.
Venturing around a bend in the trail, we emerged into a grove of huge oak trees offering some refreshing shade. Students and staff enjoyed several deep breaths to take in the scents of our new surroundings and took a closer look at the flowers of the sweet pepper bushes. I handed out magnifying lenses so they could examine the fine details of the blossoms. We sauntered past the butterfly meadow and admired milkweed and Queen Anne’s lace through the lenses as well.
Nearing the end of our journey, students collected their artwork and we walked back to the parking lot. Today was another fantastic adventure. I encouraged students to return to Pleasant Bay Woodlands with their families so they could share all the wonders we enjoyed together today.
I can hardly wait for our next adventure!