The Block Island Times
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Ocean Views: Winter Vacation

By Kim Gaffett | Mar 05, 2013
Photo by: Kim Gaffett A group of OVF time travelers spent a day experiencing what 18th century agricultural life was like — including hunting for eggs and making maple sugar.

It seems that the end — and beginning — of each season is celebrated with dual-purpose events. For instance, are Ground Hog Day and Easter celebrations of the end of winter or the beginning of spring? And, is the ever-popular February vacation a celebration of winter, a tool for endurance, or a catalyst for the transition from winter slumber to spring activity? In the past month how did you spend/end your hibernation time? Did you seek the Caribbean, Mexico, Colorado, Hawaii, northern New England, Italy, the poles, Patagonia, Siberia, Newport, Stonington, Bristol, or New York City?

One group of Islanders recently traveled to the far shores of Bristol, R.I. This unique adventure also required significant time travel — more than two centuries back in time. After spending two hours crossing the ocean and three major bridges, a group of us emerged from our carriages at the Coggeshall Farm, a living museum depicting Bristol’s agricultural life in 1799.

This Ocean View Foundation-sponsored February Vacation day trip was enjoyed by eight children and three adults and offered all a unique perspective of winter’s end/spring beginning of life on a farm. Our hosts and tenant farmers at Coggeshall Farm, John and Shelly (dressed in typical 1750 attire), showed us around the farm. Our movements echoed a typical morning of chores: from the chicken coop (hunting for eggs) to the lambing stall, from the field where we met the new calf, Nemo (born at midnight during the recent winter storm), and finally into the woods where we tapped a maple tree and learned about the region’s history of maple sugaring.

Though the temperature was below freezing and the wind blew stiff and was freighted with moisture, there was not a single grumble about the cold as we spent the better part of three hours outside — just as we would have in 1799. That is not to say that we were not delighted and appreciative of our ability to huddle around the maple sugaring fire, and a chance to have our lunches in the farm house kitchen.

After the morning outside, the 1790s tenant farmhouse kitchen with a small hearth, one table and few chairs, seemed luxurious. We were all in awe at the realization that at one time this small house would have been home to a three-generation family. Fortified by lunch and lumps of maple sugar we reversed our time and place travel and have once again found ourselves in modern day Block Island both celebrating the peace and beauty of winter and joyous at the prospect of spring.

For more opportunities to consider and observe the transition of winter to spring, and embrace the connection of people and nature, join these March Ocean View Foundation events and programs:

 

 

March 5 at 8 a.m.: Crazy-as-a-Coot Bird Walk, call 595-7055 for location

March 10 at dusk: Comet PanSTARRS, start watching for this late dusk comet low in the western sky, may be visible throughout mid-March

March 14 at 6 p.m.: Environmental Film Pot Luck, at the Island Free Library

March 19 at 8 a.m.: Crazy-as-a-Coot Bird Walk, call 595-7055 for location

March 20 at 7:02 a.m.: Vernal Equinox, first day of spring

March 26 at 6 p.m.: Environmental Film Pot Luck, at the Island Free Library

March 27: Full Sap Moon

Late March: Listen for the season’s first spring peepers


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