Soup & Walk-November 15, 2008 by Julianna Pax

This was our last soup & walk for the year and Mother Nature cooperated with sunny weather and a south breeze by 11 AM. We had thunderstorms around 3 in the morning and the forecast was for rainstorms all day. At 9:30, it still looked like we would need an indoor program. But by 10:30 the skies cleared and the 70 degree day was absolutely lovely!!

We headed to the woods in search of winter food for the wildlife. Nuts, acorns, berries and seeds were on our list. Before we even got to the woods, we looked up at a very tall tulip tree and saw glints of gold in the sunlight from a few late leaves and some seed clusters showing against a very blue sky with fluffy white clouds. Just before entering the woods, a dogwood sported a few red berries and lots of buds for next spring. On the first bridge we saw an arrowwood viburnum still attached to some of its pinkish red leaves. Next to it was an ironwood and again looking way up, there were a few seed clusters showing. On we trudged and saw some of the red and white oak families and identified them from the leaves. The white oak acorns with less tannic acid were very scarce. I think we finally found a few. The red oak acorns and hickory nuts also were not plentiful but again we did find a few. Even the hearts a bursting which had some of the purple caps did not have berries except for one lonely berry attached to a cap. The pines yielded some Virginia pine cones but we saw no loblolly pine cones. We surmised that the birds and other wildlife did have more options for food in the meadow.

Even though the day was warm, the Turkey Chili soup, Waldorf salad, Flaxseed bread and Gingerbread with Lemon Sauce were just what we needed after the hour walk. Many went back for seconds and maybe more. I brought out some samples of oak leaves, acorns, hickory nuts, hicans (hickory crossed with a pecan), black walnuts and pecans that I had brought for display. We discussed the value of nuts, seeds and berries in our diets. Recipes were handed out and discussed. Suzie squirrel came by and thanked us for sharing the arboretum and its food.

Thanks to all the volunteers, this was a very successful soup and walk for our 26 guests. The volunteers were Mickey B, Mary Jo K, Michele W, Lynn L, Yvonne O, and Suzie N. Did I miss anybody? Mickey’s decorations were beautiful and used for the flying farmers group the next day. All of the volunteers seem to anticipate what needs to be done so there is a great deal of teamwork and camaraderie. Thank you, you make this event very special for me. Jenny was great at the front desk. Jenny mentioned that many guests had good comments as they left. Erica was the staff person who was very helpful. Heidi, Paul, Buck and Kathy all helped get the event ready. Thanks to all.

I asked the guests if they were interested in a possible 2 hour walk in March and 19 signed up! I think we will try to do 2 tours, a longer one starting at 10 AM and a shorter one starting at 11 AM. The longer one will be able to do more of the Tuckahoe Valley trail since it has great spring ephemerals.

Anyone who wants to order a green soup & walk polo shirt and/or help with the soup & walks next year, please let me know. We start in February.

Thanks, Julianna
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