Lots to do in winter

Fri, 02/07/2020 - 3:30pm

What do you do in the winter?

This week I picked and forced a few twigs of witch hazel; I love its frilly yellowness and light ambrosial scent in January. Don’t mistake this annual activity as a desire for spring. For me, it is a corsage for the celebration of winter. On Block Island we celebrate Ground Hog Day, again, not as a desire to know if spring is in the offing, but rather to celebrate the year-round community. Regardless of why I pick witch hazel or celebrate Ground Hog Day, they are evidence of the coming spring season. We may guffaw a bit about this country’s focus on Ground Hog Day as a predictor of spring, but it has its roots in ancient pagan tradition celebrating the mid-point between winter solstice and spring equinox — a cross-quarter day.

Early February is indeed a time when many are looking forward to days of longer light and moderating weather; although we certainly can’t complain about the cold this winter season. But, this winter-phile relishes the season, and is not wishing it on its way just yet, there is still half a winter left to enjoy. All of us who live here have been asked at least once, “What do you do in the winter?” There are so many answers to this question; but, if spending time outdoors and discovering the wonders of our island world has your interest piqued, then join me, and other Nature Conservancy staff, on any — or all — of the following winter time diversions.

Beach Avenue Walk: Feb. 10 at 8 a.m. Meet at Beach Avenue Trail. A short walk to witness the month’s highest tides, and all things natural history: birds, blossoms, and the sounds of each season, as they evolve through the year.

Crazy-as-a-Coot Bird Walk: Feb. 18 at 8 a.m. Location TBD. A bird walk at different locations around the island for birders and walkers of all skill levels. This program runs on the first and third Tuesdays of October through June.

Family Walk in Nature: Feb. 9 at 12:30 p.m. Meet at Settlers’ Rock. A short Sunday afternoon walk at one of the island’s signature open spaces. Multigenerational and stroller friendly. This new offering is introductory in nature and is a time to explore, discover and share the beauty, fun and wonder of being in the out of doors. Five dates scattered from February through April.

Film & Soup: Feb. 25 at 6 p.m. A monthly (November through May) showing of an environmental film with homemade soup. This program is provided jointly with Island Free Library. February’s presentation will be “The Biggest Little Farm.”

GBBC: Tutorial: Feb. 13 at 3:30 p.m. Meet at Andy’s Way parking area. A short bird walk and introduction to National Audubon’s community science program, Great Backyard Bird Count. All ages and skill levels encouraged.

Healthy Kids: Inside & Out: Feb. 14, 21, 28 at 10:30 a.m. at Island Free Library. OVF Naturalist leads this Island Free Library program for all preschool-aged children and their minders (parent, grandparent, child-care person, etc.) This outing is a nature walk of discovery for the “wee ones,” where we concentrate on what is seen, heard, smelled, felt and, sometimes tasted. This program runs December through April.

James Stover Block Island Exploration Series: Feb. 22 at 1 p.m. Meet at Parish Center parking lot on Spring Street. A once-monthly, year-round program exploring the fascinating natural areas and species of Block Island. February’s program will be focused on seals. All are welcome.

Pop-up programming. Other guided outings, designed to share the island’s natural wonders, may be added as opportunities arise. For instance, during school vacation, or part of community science projects (think island-wide seal counting in March.), or night sky watching, etc. If you have an idea or curiosity about something, just let me know.

The dates provided in the list above are only the February dates. Most of these programs will continue well into spring — and beyond. To keep up to date, watch for new listings on TNC’s calendar at Natureblockisland.org, or in The Block Island Times. And, remember, all ages and experience levels are welcome and encouraged.