Saturday, October 15, 2011

On an Autumn Exploration

Today was day 1 of the Autumn Exploration Camp that I have been planning for at LEAST a month. The thing I have been looking forward to for AGES.

And it was finally here.

And let me tell you, it was GRAND!!

I arrived early to make sure EVERYTHING was PERFECT. I had even thought out how I would explain the changing of the leaves to the kids in terms they would understand. I was super excited!!

When they arrived they were timid at first, but my casual and delightful personality won their hearts almost immediately. First we answered the question, "Why DO leaves change their colors in the fall." They really seemed to GET it. All thanks to my powers of description and creating quick analogies (Like how evergreen trees are like dogs. The DO shed SOME of their needles, but not their WHOLE coat.). It went as PERFECTLY well as I could have hoped.

The rest of the day proceeded as planned. These two boys were PERFECT! And sometimes you can have JUST as much fun with only two kids as you can with 10. We went on a hike, collected all kinds of cool seeds, did a sensory scavenger hunt, a color hunt, played human camera and meet a tree, we saw chipmunks, squirrels, birds, and snakes. We did leave rubbings, bark rubbings and learned how to identify trees and plants.

It was windy but sunny and the weather was PERFECT!

When we came back, we did a blind exploration. I had placed several food items in plastic bags (carrots, apples, sunflower seeds, granola, chocolate chips, and peanut butter). This was for their snack. They were to try and guess by FEELING the things what was inside each bag. Some of them were tough! But they got several of them right. And even said EWWWW in PERFECT unison when they touched the peanut butter. We then had our snack of apple sandwiches, carrots, and sunflower seeds.

Finally we made REALLY cute owls with paper scraps, toilet paper tubes, and paint! They left with smiles on their faces and everything was just...PERFECT.

Oh, wait, I lied.

None of that actually happened.

HA! I fooled you! Like one of those HORRIBLE movies/TV episodes where the explanation was "and it was ALL a dream..."

Well, the FIRST thing happened. I arrived early to make sure everything was ready and perfect. I HAVE been planning this event for a while, and even though there were only going to be two kids, I we SUPER excited. The weather was great, I had LOADS of fun stuff planned, and I was convinced I would have created little tree identification GENIUSES by the end of the day!

Then 15 minutes before show time, the dad shows up and informs me that his sons mutinied against him and weren't going to come. He asked if I had anyone else coming. I admit it. I lied. I felt so ashamed that we only had two attendees and that I was depending on his two kids to make this day a success (he's a board member by the way). So I told him that there was a woman who said she might bring her two kids today (this woman EXISTS, she just said she might bring her two kids TOMORROW).

Yeah. I smiled it off. Assured him it was fine. Then cried a little when he left.

I've had no-show situations before. PLENTY of them. This year AND last year. But for some reason, this one stung just a little more. And the disappointment was intense.


I knew that I couldn't allow my day to be ruined. Not this time of year. Not so close to the end of everything. This would NOT be the memory of my last program weekend at Merryspring.

What did I do?

I made my OWN freaking owl. A blue one, with yellow swirls. It's cute and I loved making it. So there.

Then I took a nice brisk walk back home, listening to music that helped raise my spirits a little. The day was just so palpably FALL. I got home, ate a giant apple (not kidding. These honey crisp apples are the size of your hand-wrist to middle fingertip. HUGE), and hopped in my car.

My destination? Beech Hill Preserve. It's this organic blueberry farm and historic property. It has two trails, one which leads to the summit of a small hill. The hill may be small, but it has an AMAZING view of the bay and the lands surrounding.

Boy was it WINDY! And the whole time I was trying to snap good pictures-but in vain. A cheap camera plus lots of patchy clouds equals a lot of useless photos deleted at the end of the day. But it was a great walk, and it was wonderful to see all that beauty, even though I couldn't capture it in a convenient, portable memory.

After that, I drove through Rockport-the small town that USED to be part of Camden until it broke off. I'm not sure why. But it's a cute, SMALL town. Even smaller than Camden, I think. I stopped off at a park I have never seen. One that follows the river and old lime deposits from all the limestone quarrying that used to go on in this part of Maine. It had a loveliness all it's own. Then it was a drive along the road that boarders Megunticook lake and finally to Shirt Tail point for some pictures.

So instead of crawling in my bed and moping the whole day, I had my OWN autumn exploration. And it was great.

I'm still bitterly disappointed. But these things happen. And dwelling on them doesn't help. Plus, I KNOW it's not my fault that these kids didn't want to come and we got such little reception for the event. That's just Merryspring.

The day ended with a Merryspring's yearly volunteer recognition party. Lots of little finger foods, wine (and apple cider thank goodness), and a slideshow made by moi along with a little music I hand selected.

Not many people were listening but the playlist included a little Tijuana Brass, the Baby Elephant Walk, some Celtic, Bluegrass, and the main title from Chariots of Fire. Good times.

And while I had spent the whole day feeling under-appreciated, as I mingled with the volunteers they couldn't stop telling me what a great job I had done this year, how I had done SO MUCH, and how impressed they were.

Needless to say, my heart was lifted.

And one of the volunteers brought me a bag of gummy worms. And inside joke. I didn't even KNOW I had an inside joke with anyone in Maine!

So there you are. All about my morning that ended up in shambles, and how I picked them up and arranged them into a pretty successful Saturday.

Now I just have to wait and see if anyone shows up TOMORROW.

Some Photos.

The Diagram I prepared. And no one got to take advantage of.

The fun that was never had.

View from the top of Beech Hill

Leaf Covered Forest Floor

Clouds over the mountains

The historic stone building at the top of Beech Hill

Another view from the top of Beech Hill

Field of wildflowers gone to seed

There were ACRES of blueberry plants! All turned red for the Autumn season.

A teeny tiny snail hanging off an old Queen Anne's Lace stem

A view of the river from Cramer Park.


Julina said...

I'm still SERIOUSLY ANNOYED for your sake, but I'm glad Beech Hill was beautiful and that some people appreciate how much work you've done, even if 2 mutinying (is that word? Did I spell it right? Ahh, whatever...) boys don't. I hope tomorrow goes better.

Love ya

Emily S. said...

ugh. That put knots in my tummy. I am so so so so sad for you and wish I could reset the day so you could have the amazingness you imagined. :(


You reclaimed the day, and that is AMAZING. And even the cheap camera is getting a good workout, because I am loving some of the perspectives you're trying out. Please keep snapping, even when the output is not matching your vision. You WILL grow.

And again, hugs, sympathy and UGH for you on the start of the day. Here's to tomorrow.

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