Nature Table for July
Rivers & lakes dispense gifts for July
When the air is thick and muggy and temperatures stretch beyond the thermometer’s eighty degree marker, we head to the river. Though the river is a major feature in our landscape no matter the season, the hot days of midsummer compel us to develop a much more intimate relationship with the ripples and rapids than we’ve upheld throughout the rest of the year. Our far-away glances and detached musings about river-bottom happenings slip silently into the current, transforming as they cool into true knowing – our feet dig deep into the sandy river bed, our hands feel the rocks’ soft surfaces, and our veins pulse a little cooler, a river in miniature inside of ourselves.
July is indisputably a time for swimming, a time when we direct all of our attention to eradicating our skin of prickly, sticky sweat, a time to submerge ourselves with abandon into the dark water that rushes down from the hills. In the summertime, we experience our landscape much differently than we do any other time of year – and not just because it’s full of life. Warm weather grants us the opportunity to explore wet places without protection – bare feet, bare arms, bare bellies.
We can learn a lot by seizing summer’s opportunity to be at home in a familiar body of water. In submerging ourselves into a lake, stream, pond, river, or ocean, we also immerse ourselves into an up-close-and-personal study of that body of water – we see who lives in it, what grows in it, how the water moves, and where the current has deposited treasures. Observing a body of water from within offers us an entirely different experience than observing it from the bank or beach – when our entire bodies are involved in our learning, we’re able to experience the place with all of our senses and our memory of the place is imprinted much more deeply.
This month’s nature table honors the discoveries made when heading down into the water. Collected at lakes, rivers, and a few of New England’s ocean beaches, the table’s contents reflect the diverse plant and animal life that can be found in and around bodies of water, and the treasures that can be found when you look closely enough.
Our July table contains:
- fish spine
- bit of root that grew around a rock
- hollow tube of birch bark
- chunks of pottery from a riverbed
- variety of shells
- wasp nest
- oak gall
River- and beach-related curiosity is satisfied this month by reading:
- A River Ran Wild: An Environmental History by Lynne Cherry
- Flood by Mary Calhoun
- Three Days on a River in a Red Canoe by Vera B. Williams
- The Architecture of Animals: The Equinox Guide to Wildlife Structures by Adrian Forsyth
- The Rockpool by David Bellamy
Robin Morgan Huntley, Intern
A native to Maine, Robin joined Hilltown Families in early 2011. She is a graduate of Antioch University with a masters in education. Her interests within the field of education include policy and all types of nontraditional education. For her undergraduate project at Hampshire College, Robin researched the importance of connecting public schools with their surrounding communities, especially in rural areas. Robin lives in Shelburne Falls, MA.