Ed’s Corner

The ‘official’ word is that the groundhog did not see his shadow on February 2. But here in Chestnut Ridge where I live, a mile from camp, it was sunny in the morning so shadows would definitely abound if the groundhog ever did come out of the ground. Does that mean that here at camp we’re in for 6 more weeks of winter while everyone else enjoys an early spring?

While I am writing this I can look out the office window and see my first crocus flowers of the season. They always surprise me because I just don’t expect them with snow still on the ground. Seeing them also tells me that if I go back to our swamp and move some snow around with my foot I will probably find the flowers of the skunk cabbage. And then my mind goes to other expectations, like the return from the south of flocks of male red-winged blackbirds. I guess I’m experiencing a bit of very early spring fever; but there is one annual activity that always keeps me grounded, busy and in the moment: it’s maple syrup time! Cold nights and warmer days call us out to our sugar maple trees to tap them, collect the sap and boil it down to maple syrup. Forty gallons of sap will make 1 (only one!) gallon of syrup, so you can imagine how much boiling is necessary.

Hopefully all this talk of sap and syrup has got you pining (mapleing?) for a maple sugaring experience of your very own. If so, you’re in luck, and can join us as we tap our maples on March 2nd. See details about our maple sugaring program here.

Rock Knocking

As I write this, January 14, the weather feels almost balmy. What little snow we had on the ground has once again, somewhere and in some form, joined the water cycle. Let’s take advantage of the lack of snow and frozen earth and go a-knocking. Go wandering through your favorite nature area, it could be your backyard, and knock three times on a rock (kind of flat, not too big or heavy) and then tip the rock toward you and see who or what may be home.

We knocked on a rock, lifted it up…

Lift gently. say a quiet ‘hello’, wish them a good rest of the winter and then gently place the rock down again in the exact spot.

…and found a hibernating woolly bear caterpillar!

Making a Snowball Lantern

From a book called Snow Play by Birgitta Ralston

To make the base, place 9 same-sized snowballs in a circle on the ground. Make sure they are touching each other. Now put a tea candle on the ground inside the snowball circle. Stack up layers of snowballs, making each layer smaller so you have a rounded shape. Leave the top open. Carefully light the candle and then add one more snowball to the top to close the lantern. Stand back and ohhh and ahhh.

beginning a snowball lantern