A Day at Mass Audubon’s Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary

Searching for Spring

We picked up a map and headed straight to the vernal pool. It’s wet enough right now to be connected to the pond. It is full of amphibians and hatched eggs right now. Frogs big enough to be seen a few yards away are impressive to anyone, especially to small boys. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Spring has taken its sweet time coming our way. I grew up in a city, and now I live in a smaller one with my family. As a child my mother would take us out of New York around the change of seasons. She said she missed the small seasonal transitions you can only notice in the country and the woods: leaf buds unfurling in springtime, and the first tint of color on autumn’s leaves.

It has been damp this spring without much sun in these parts. Our snow covered mountains are gone. Occasionally, the minivan is warm in the morning, but recently we went searching for more encouraging signs of spring at Mass Audubon’s Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary in Easthampton. It’s really just a hop down the road from us, but it was our first trip.

There are several different trails to follow at the sanctuary — short ones for small people, or people who have to be at work later that day — and longer ones for weekend mornings and sturdier legs. If you go into the Visitor’s Center you will get some good advice, but first take a nice long look at the white board detailing all the recent animal sitings (which includes deer ticks right now, so long pants tucked into rain boots are a good plan.) We picked up a map and headed straight to the vernal pool. It’s wet enough right now to be connected to the pond. It is full of amphibians and hatched eggs right now. Frogs big enough to be seen a few yards away are impressive to anyone, especially to small boys.

We didn’t have my oldest son Isaac with us on this trip but we are going to go back and try the Quest. It was perhaps a little too challenging for the younger kids on their own to accomplish this wildlife sanctuary treasure hunt, and I truly think they will enjoy it more if they are working together without much help from an adult. Older elementary school kids would be able to do it independently.

As for spring, we did find it: leaves unfurling, shiny green moss, birds squawking, and buds blooming. We feel a little more settled that New England’s snowy winter is behind us. We can crawl out into nature again. I will be celebrating by sending the boys out to play in the neighborhood while I pack away winter boots, hats, gloves and scarves for next year.

If you decide to go in search of spring this weekend, you should know there is a small fee to enter the sanctuary, but it is free to Mass Audubon members. That reminds me to tell you that right now annual family memberships are on sale for $29.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Karen Bayne

Karen grew up in Manhattan and lived in Connecticut before moving to Northampton with her husband Matt to raise their boys. Her sons Isaac, Henry and Theo are 11, 6 and 4,  leaving Karen on a search for all the “just right adventures” that will wow them and wear them out.  She works as a birth doula, childbirth and parent educator in the greater Northampton area. She writes about mothering at Needs New Batteries and about birth in our culture at Gentle Balance Birth.

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