Loving the Natural World

“There can be occasions when we suddenly and involuntarily find ourselves loving the natural world with a startling intensity, in a burst of emotion which we may not fully understand, and the only word that seems to me to be appropriate for this feeling is joy.” ~ Michael McCarthy, British naturalist and environmental writer

dscf6019 (1)Dear Families and Friends,

Today we welcomed Len Greenhalgh and Jocelyn Pacquette into our classroom studios. With frigid temperatures outdoors, we postponed our visit to Wheeler Bay and instead heard an explorer’s epic tale. It was a story of discovery, commitment, and change making. Some decades ago Len saw an osprey flying overhead. He began to worry about where the osprey would makes its home and how it would find food. Just then he saw a sign; an old granite quarry was for sale, and Len was determined to buy it. With piles of cut stone left on the land, a buyer would have mountains of work to do .

Sometimes explorers make life-changing decisions, which is what Len did, when he purchased that abandoned quarry. With a passion for nature, he transformed the place into a sanctuary for wildlife. Over the years he’s established deep connections with creatures that make their home there. He told children about the species on the preserve, including families of deer. Len calls them by name, and the animals come to him. Fourth graders were enthralled. They asked questions and shared stories about deer in their own backyards.

Jocelyn explained that planting trees on the land made the quarry even healthier. Kids came up with reasons why trees make life better like – “They give animals shelter, which protects them from predators.” We heard about the oldest tree (9,000 years,) and how the first paper came from birch trees. We learned that when it rains on a willow, the droplets fall from the leaves, giving the weeping willow its name. Jocelyn had an infinite number of facts up her sleeve.

Using books and on-line resources, kids observed trees and drew them in journals. They focused on shape and the way branches extended. They elaborated with more detail, with bark as references.

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Kids made prints today too. Cindy and visiting artist, Sandy Weisman, explained how to load the plates and use brayers and brushes. Students thought carefully about composition before printing.

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Gathering together at the end of the morning everyone agreed:  Len had all of the attributes of an explorer – by their own definitions. He discovered a quarry. He found animals and made it safe for them to live there. He explored underneath the granite. He made a home for the birds. He names the animals and feeds them. He created a new preserve from a destroyed quarry. AMAZING!

A big thank you to Jocelyn and Len for coming to Thomaston Grammar School this morning.  Being out in nature is wonderful. But on a cold day like today, hearing stories about the natural world is even better.

Inspired and most grateful,

Nancy, Susan, Alanna, Cindy, and Sandy

 

 

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