We are blessed to have so many wonderful volunteers at Audubon. Take our trail guide volunteers, for example. This spring there were thirteen folks who donated their time and expertise to help us guide thousands of children from dozens of schools and organizations along the trails at the sanctuary. A Discovery Walk is designed to introduce children to the natural world in a safe and informed way. We like to do this in small groups of 8-12 students, but with only 3 fulltime naturalists, that would be impossible. There were some days when we had as many as 80 children at the sanctuary at one time!
To make sure they all know how much we appreciate their work and their dedication, we offer a Thank You Field Trip at the end of each spring season. This year, we visited the property owned by two of our trail guides: Bill and Diane, pictured here with their dogs Little Bear and Holly.
In our tour of the property, it took us a long time to get past the house and the yard… so many interesting things to see. Bill and Diane are building this place with the help of some very talented local craftsmen and women.
Inside and out, every effort is made to be as green as possible. The fish/frog pond was built to be a sanctuary for wildlife, as well as to provide water for the gardens. Rainwater from the roof is collected in a giant cistern underground.
Green frogs and toads sang to us from this pond…
Circles are the theme… Even the gardens will be planted in circles around the Peace Pole. Nest boxes were in use by tree swallows and bluebirds. Even the strawberry patch concealed a nest!
Greystone Nature Preserve got its name from an enormous grey stone that now sits in a stone garden graced by a Peace Pole.
The rock garden is filled with many, many unusual stones, some from an old collection belonging to Bill’s dad, and others that were wedding gifts to Diane and Bill. Wedding gifts? Yup. Bill and Diane told wedding guests that they didn’t need another toaster and encouraged each person to bring a special stone to add to the collection. There are awesome stones in that circle!
Diane explained that stones like these with holes were Wisdom Stones to the Native Americans.
One of the contributions to the Stone Garden was an Inukshuk:
An Inukshuk is built in the image of man – two strong legs, a pelvic stone, shoulders, and a head. Read more about them by clicking here.
When we could finally tear ourselves away from the features near the house, we wandered trails that took us past fields and forest. There were plenty of signs of Bill and Diane’s hard work. This property had once been a grape vineyard. In most places, they had gotten the vines under control, removing them from trees to release them to the sun… This one, however, they left for the turkeys. Have you ever seen a grape vine towering 20-30 feet in the air?
Around the bend to arrive at the teepee:
And here we are inside:
Are you wondering what they are all looking at? Here it is:
A little Red Eft in Sarah’s hands. (P.S. Can’t wait to see how Jeff’s photo turns out…)
The property also affords a cool walk in the shady woods and down to a fine little creek.
By noon, we were ready for our potluck lunch:
Staff and Volunteer Trail Guides (Sadly, not all were able to attend…)
We had fine food, conversation and laughter, sharing many stories from the busy walk season. We were all somewhat reluctant to leave and many of us have plans to go back when we can.
(Cross-posted at Audubon’s blog: