For Father’s Day this year, we once again visited one of the most beautiful places on earth, Wachusett Meadow Wildlife Sanctuary in Princeton, MA. I guess it’s a tradition now.
Previously: Photopost: Wachusett Meadow (2012)
My son & I spent the Columbus Day Weekend in Washington, D.C. Some of my favorite photos from the weekend are below, the rest are here.
My son and I journeyed to the Ecotarium for Free Fun Fridays. The Ecotarium is a science museum surrounded by outdoor compound including nature trails, animal exhibits, a playground, and even a train ride. We had a great time with the only downside being that my parochial Bostonian view found the drive to Worcester a bit too long.
Today we went to the last day of the 2010 Topsfield Fair, America’s oldest fair dating to 1818. Our time was limited and we were guided by a toddler, but I think we got a good sense of the fair and had a great time. The Kiddie Land area had a lot of rides my nearly three-year old son enjoyed including little cars, a fire-fighter themed climbing structure, a Crazy Bus, a Berry Go Round, and a jungle bounce (I want one of these for my back yard). In the agricultural area we feed miniature horses and brushed a calf as well as saw rabbits, llamas, guinea pigs, sheep, and goats. There were other things I would have enjoyed such as the history exhibit in the Grange Hall and the rides in the Midway (not to mention the racing pigs), but I think we all had a fun and fulfilling day at the fair.
Last night we returned to Drumlin Farm for the Friday Evening Hayride. Farmer Caroline drove the tractor out to through the fields. Along the way Drumlin Farm educator Debbie taught us that we were in fact taking a strawride and that Drumlin Farm has been under cultivation for 250 years. Of course, around these parts I wondered “only 250 years?”
We stopped by a campfire to roast marshmallows and make s’mores. Then we sang “She’ll Be Comin’ Round the Drumlin” for Farmer Caroline and a song about a farm called “Muscle and Arm.” Then we heard a native American story about our special evening visitor, a screech owl!
A good time was had by all.
A few animal portraits from a holiday Monday visit to Boston’s Franklin Park Zoo.
When I was a kid I liked to visit farm museums where I could see all sorts of farm animals and a different way of life from my suburban upbringing. I’ve written about a couple of these magical places before – The Stamford Museum and Nature Center and Old MacDonald’s Farm. As an adult I’ve found it difficult to recapture the magic when visiting farm attractions as they’re either dismally small and depressing or so over-commercialized and packed with stuff that really have nothing to do with a farm.
So it was with great delight that I visited the MassAudobon’s Drumlin Farm Wildlife Sanctuary in Lincoln, MA. It helps that I went accompanied by a toddler so everything was doubly fun. It’s a place where one can commune with sheep, pigs, goats, cows, deer, owls, and chickens. The tractor is vintage and it pulls a no-frills hayride around the farm. Not only that, but better than any of the places I visited as a child this is a functioning farm, growing produce for sale and divvied up among CSA shares. Drumlin Farm is a beautiful, educational, and magical place.
More photos below.
In my childhood, I enjoyed National Geographic specials about a slight English woman who would sit in the Tanzanian forest by the Gombe River and observe chimpanzees. In college I read one of her books, Through a Window: My Thirty Years With the Chimpanzees of Gombe and became even more deeply enamored with the woman and her works. When Jane Goodall received an honorary degree from the College of William & Mary on Charter Day in 1993, my roommate Hal joked that they would need security to keep me from swooping in from the rafters and abducting her. Thus it was natural for me to read the comprehensive biography Jane Goodall: The Woman Who Redefined Man (2006) by Dale Peterson.
Peterson relies on a wealth of source material including interviews with Goodall, her family, colleagues and researchers; a huge volume of Goodall’s correspondence; and Goodall’s voluminous notes and published writings. From early childhood, Jane Goodall seemed to be fated to her future work by observing farm animals, starting science clubs with her friends, and studying the behavior of her many family pets. At times, the detail of Goodall’s childhood seems a bit too much. I swear there’s an entire chapter that just lists the names of young men who fancied the teenage Jane.
The strength of this biography is the portion of Jane’s life from the late-1950’s to the mid-1970’s. Starting with her affiliation with Louis Leakey anthropological & archaeological works in Africa, Jane set off on a new bold path with her quiet observation of the chimpanzees of Gombe, recognizing the chimps as individuals, and building up a detailed record of behavior over time. Her methods were considered unscientific by some, yet at the same time she recieved pressure from her sponsors at National Geographic to make her writing less scientific (National Geographic doesn’t come off well in this book due to a often tempestuous relationship with Goodall and the Gombe Stream reserve.) Goodall’s family life is fascinating as well, including her mother Vanne and sister Judy who both accompanied Jane to Gombe at times, her two husbands – photographer Hugo and Tanzanian politician Derek, and son Grub who grew up at the research station. Most of the biography is related in a strict chronological manner although there are some artistic details such as a chapter where the regime changes among Gombe’s alpha male chimpanzees are intertwined with the changes of administration from National Geographic support to a more independent Jane Goodall Institute.
For the excess of detail in the early part of the book, the last portion of the book from the mid-1970’s to the present feels rushed. The death of Goodall’s second husband seems to be just a few paragraphs tacked onto a chapter about Idi Amin’s invasion of Tanzania and inexplicably long passages about the family dogs. Thirty years of Goodall’s life – during a period when she became a traveling activist for both wild and captive chimpanzees – seems to be nothing more than a list of awards, appearances, and accomplishments. I like this book because I love Jane Goodall for her remarkable accomplishments as a scientist, teacher and educator, but Peterson’s writing can be plodding and uneven at times. I’ve added Goodall’s own book Reason For Hope; A Spiritual Journey to my reading list for 2009 to learn even more.
In the meantime, check out The Jane Goodall Institute website for lots of neat resources.
Jane Goodall : the woman who redefined man by Dale Peterson.
Publisher: Boston : Houghton Mifflin Co., 2006.