by Katie Finch
This summer I had the good fortune to go on vacation with 16 members of my family. Some may think this a week to be tolerated. For me, this was a trip to anticipate with pleasure and enjoy. With all chipping in, we went rented a big house at the beach. In a large house with all the amenities, a short walk to the beach and the only scheduled activity being dinner at 6:30pm, we had the freedom and ability to do what we wanted to do. Some read, some fished; others sunbathed and went for walks.
Making Memories: Catching Ghost Crabs
There was plenty to do during the day. But what does a large group, ranging in age from 14 months to 65 years old do in the evening? After the sun went down, we took buckets and flashlights and headed back to the beach. And it was there that the chase started.
We designated “seekers”, “catchers” and “cameras”. Our quarry? The small, but quick Ghost Crab. After the sun goes down, these nocturnal crustaceans leave the safety of their sand tunnels to feed at the water line. No bigger than 2 inches, the beach is full of scurrying little creatures with sizable front claws.
When a “seeker” spotted a crab, they followed it with the beam of the flashlight so the “catcher” could grab it before it ducked down a hole. When a crab was caught, the rest of the group would gather around to look and dare each other to touch before we returned our temporary captive, a little shaken but unharmed, to the sand.
While catching crabs may at first seem like a frivolous activity, I ask you to look closer. For three nights in a row we laughed- a lot- together. Watching my cousin and uncle, feet wide, knees bend and hands out looked like a poor execution of a basketball drill. Some overcame fears of the creepy crawly and the dark. We encouraged one another in our joint quest, celebrated in our successes and supported each other in our failures.
The natural world so often provides the setting for a shared experience that provides so much more than just intellectual knowledge about the nature topic at hand. While we did learn about crabs, we learned a little more about one another and created memories as we marveled at the wonders of our world.
And what was just as special about those nights on the beach? At the same time we were chasing, laughing and sometimes screaming, other groups, who could only be spotted by their roaming flashlights, were doing the same thing.
In a house with a TV in every room, it would have been easy to retreat to our respective rooms, each watching what we wanted. In a society where our options for how we spend our free time are so varied and so vast, we would do well to remember the outdoors as a choice. As we seek to grow and develop relationships with people in our lives, look to the natural world as a setting for that to happen. It can be as simple as going for a hike, watching the stars or catching crabs. Not only do your relationships with friends and family grow but so does your relationship with the natural world. And that is never wasted time.
Meet a talking Owl at Enchanted Forest!
Audubon is hosting an event this fall that allows both kids and adults to make memories together in the outdoors. Join us on either Friday or Saturday, October 3 or 4 for Enchanted Forest. This is a non-scary Halloween event where you are led down a luminary lit trail at night to talking animals. These costumed animal actors share some of the interesting facts about their animal life.
The animals featured this year include a Black Bear, Striped Skunk, Mice, Star Nosed Mole and Pileated Woodpecker.
To take part in the event you must have prepaid reservations. There are still openings for slots. Tours begin every 10 minutes between 6:00pm and 8:00pm. Deadline for registration is Friday, September 26; there will be no ticket sales at the door. To register, call (716) 569-2345 or stop by the nature center. The event takes place rain or shine.
Guests are encouraged to come in costume!
This event is made possible by numerous volunteers assisting in both the planning and the day of the event. Bill Colter and Bob Ungerer and Amanda Melquist are once again organizing the event. Thank you also to our sponsors: Carroll Rod and Gun Club, King’s Heating and Z&M Ag and Turf. I am pleased to work for an organization that has such support from the members and businesses in the community.
Jamestown Audubon is located at 1600 Riverside Road in the town of Kiantone, one-quarter mile east of Route 62 between Jamestown, New York and Warren, Pennsylvania. Learn more about the Center & Sanctuary and the many programs and events by visiting http://jamestownaudubon.org.
Katie Finch is a naturalist at Jamestown Audubon.