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Photo by Kellen McCluskey

Thursday, February 22

Nature Notes

Rainy days are best because we are alone in the woods. The beech grove is shaped like a cupped palm and tilts towards the stream. Normally a placid progression of water, today Gravel Run swells well beyond the banks, churning and muddy. I question my judgment but move forward anyway.

One of the dogs veers too close and slips down the bank, legs spinning as the water flows around him. He is stuck, his liquid eyes beseeching. I haul him out by his harness, careful to counterbalance his weight with mine. He spends the rest of the walk warning our other dog away from the water with growls and nips.

The forest wears the grays, browns, and blacks of sodden wood, broken here and there by green, satiated moss. It springs from the buttressed trunks in wild abandon, and I can’t resist running my hand along one particularly luxuriant expanse. If I were to grab a bunch and squeeze, water would flow like a second rainfall. I leave it on the tree.

Other than occasional birdsong echoing through the wet forest, the animals are quiet. It’s not the rain that keeps them in: it’s us and daytime. In the sodden edges along the stream we see fresh tracks of deer, raccoon, and squirrel. Everyone has to eat, regardless of the weather.

By the time my jacket is soaked through and the bottoms of my jeans are caked in mud, I’m ready to turn around. We are a soggy party. The dogs’ ears are flattened against the drops and the fringe of their tails drips with each slow wag. A quote runs through my mind: “The longest life is short.” There isn’t a day to waste inside.

Jenny Houghton

Assistant Director

Photo by Jenny Houghton

Young at Heart Camp

Thinking about fun memories (or memories you wish you'd had) or summertime? Then sign up for our Young at Heart Camp! In this summer camp for adults, scheduled for June 3–7, you'll learn about native plants and wildlife, create nature-themed art, sing songs, make friends, play games and more. It's a week of laughter and learning for adults only! Register here.

Help the Monarchs!

The 2024 overwintering population of Monarch butterflies in Mexico had a 59% decline from 2023 numbers. The population numbers are the 2nd lowest ever recorded. Monarchs are in trouble.

On Saturday, March 23, Jim Wilson will explain the life cycle of the Monarch, the reasons for the precipitous declines in the population since 1996, and, most importantly, what you can do to help the population recover. The program is $10 for members and $12 for nonmembers and runs 10–11:30 a.m. Click here to register.

Photo by Kellen McCluskey

Join Our Team

We're hiring a Land Steward and will be a host site for a 2024-2025 Chesapeake Conservation and Climate Corps Member. Both of these are fantastic opportunities to join a wonderful team of professionals. Click here to learn more about the positions, and please share with interested friends and family.

Homeschool Programs

Spring is an exciting time for new life at the Arboretum! During this eight-week program for homeschool students, we’ll peek into bluebird boxes, scoop up tadpoles with nets, scout for chrysalises in our pollinator beds, use binoculars to find squirrel nests, plant sunflower seeds, and much more as we learn about the fascinating life cycles of our native plants and wildlife.

The program is offered Tuesdays, March 26–May 14. Early reading skills will be incorporated into this program, but reading is NOT a requirement for participation. Most learning will take place outdoors; please dress for the weather. This program is for ages 6–10. Click here to register.

Memberships are critical to our success. If you're not a member, please consider joining today. An Arboretum membership also makes a wonderful gift. Click here for more information. 


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