This past Sunday Kids Unplugged was at the Lenoir Preserve in Yonkers for the County’s annual Pitch in for Parks day. Because Jon was booked to do the Bossy Frog gig, I was solo with our three gals and had images of spending the whole time chasing the small one rather than doing any concerted pitching.But, amazingly, my fears were unfounded and after about two hours, a nice group of kids and parents made a solid dent in the Preserve’s spring cleaning list of chores.
We started by challenging the kids to pick up stick and pine cones from the feeder area to prep it for being raked and turned over. This is an activity which my own girls tire of quickly at home where they could make themselves seriously useful gathering the million sticks littering our backyard, but at Lenoir, the pile of accumulated kindling was impressive. And while the small one spent more time dumping out the bird bath and rifling for seeds than she did filling her pine cone basket, the discovery of a salamander under a rock certainly helped to hold their interest. When the kids did tire, they spent some time exploring the dragonfly pond while the parents finished up. Then, before the inevitable pond splooge, we hightailed it up the hill to the dry safety of the awakening butterfly garden.
The Beverly E. Smith Butterfly & Hummingbird Garden is maintained by the Hudson River Audobon society. There we met Mary Harrington, the Butterfly committee chair and primary volunteer caretaker of the garden.Mary walked our group through the seemingly dormant garden and showed us which plants needed pruning back or pulling to make way for the new season’s growth–bits of which we could already see in some places. Armed with clippers, a team of kids tackled a jungle of goldenrod, cutting it down to its base and stacking the remnants in a pile along the path. Moms and Dads followed suit, pruning, raking and clearing until Mary was positively beaming, both surprised by the ability shown by our young kids and pleased with the amount of progress we made in a short amount of time.“When I got here today I said, ‘I’m never going to get all this done!” She recounted this to us while walking the paths to check on our work, asking if we’d like to volunteer in the garden again this spring.
Kids Unplugged enthusiastically decided to adopt the Lenoir Butterfly Garden and promised to return in a few weeks to help Mary to do some more clearing as well as some planting. When things begin to bloom and the butterflies and hummingbirds start to visit, the kids will really feel like they contributed to something special. A bit of ownership over the space will help them to feel more invested in its growth and well-being. And they’ll begin to see how even the smallest ones can help to make the world more beautiful.