A friend of mine who lives in Utah recently sent me a text message linking to an article about the “12 Best Places to Hike in Ohio.” He jokingly added “#sad” to his text to try and rub in the point that he feels that Utah and Colorado’s trail opportunities are far superior to Ohio’s.
The first problem with his text was that he was gloating to the wrong friend – I am by no means what you would call a “nature person.” The second problem was that I am very much in love with the outdoor opportunities that we do have available not only in Ohio, but right here in our backyards in Delaware County.
This Saturday begins the annual Summer Letterbox Adventure put on by the Preservation Parks of Delaware County. Since I’ve lived in Delaware County, I’ve taken advantage of this amazing opportunity to explore our local parks every summer. Letterboxing is another form of geocaching and scavenger hunting using clues instead of coordinates. Each person who finds the letterbox can complete a small activity and then leave a message in the hidden notebook for the next person who finds it.
Preservation Parks partners with Delaware County libraries every year to help with their letterbox program. Stop by any Delaware County District Library location, or another county library, beginning May 27 to pick up a letterbox clue booklet for the family. Grab a pencil or marker and head to a park to get started. Prizes are available from June 15 to Sept. 12 and can be picked up at the library or Deer Haven Park.
Even though I’ve already claimed “not-a-nature-person” status, I still have some great tips for my favorite spots to visit at Preservation Parks. Shale Hollow Park has a natural play area that you won’t want to miss. It has tree stump seats, wood plank seesaws, and a special nature scavenger hunt created by Girl Scout Troop #1228 that you can download from preservationparks.com before you go. Try to count how many concretions (round rock formations) you can find as you walk.
Did you know that glaciers made it all the way to Delaware County, Ohio? Many Preservation Parks have features created by glaciers – especially at Hogback Ridge Park. Glaciation, which occurred during the last Ice Age, helped shape the park by creating ridges, and meltwater from the glaciers helped carve the stream beds. Hogback Ridge also houses the Mary Barber McCoy Nature Center, which provides a great spot for birdwatching.
Before you pick up your prize at Deer Haven Park, take a look at the birds of prey living inside the Deer Haven Aviary. Created thanks to a partnership with Ohio Nature Education (ONE), the birds living in these enclosures are permanently injured and would otherwise be unable to survive on their own in the wild. The enclosures and the care provided to them by Preservation Parks and ONE allows visitors a unique opportunity to see birds of prey up close. On the other side of the aviary, near the Visitor Center, a pollinator garden provides information about how humans and wildlife depend on pollination.
Find more information about the Preservation Parks Summer Letterbox Adventure at www.preservationparks.com or get started at your local Delaware County library. Let’s take a look this week at new titles on our shelves dealing with topics in nature and science.
• “Sentient: How Animals Illuminate the Wonder of Our Human Senses” by Jackie Higgins. Documentary filmmaker Jackie Higgins explores animal sensory perception and what it can tell us about human senses. The book contains twelve essays, each dedicated to a specific sense and an animal that exemplifies it.
• “The Treeline: The Last Forest and the Future of Life on Earth” by Ben Rawlence. Did you know that “covering one-fifth of the globe, and containing one-third of all the trees on earth, the boreal is the second-largest biome, or living system, after the ocean”? Former Human Rights Watch researcher Ben Rawlence focuses on six important taiga trees as he tracks the steady northward shift of the Arctic treeline due to climate change and ponders what this means for humanity.
• “Bird Brother: A Falconer’s Journey and the Healing Power of Wildlife” by Rodney Stotts with Kate Pipkin. Rodney Stotts recounts his impoverished upbringing and unlikely path to becoming a conservationist, wildlife educator, and one of the few Black master falconers in the United States. Stotts’ journey is also documented in “The Falconer,” an episode of the PBS documentary series America Reframed.