The Block Island Times

This week at the Ocean View: art and nature

By Tom Rosenzweig | Aug 14, 2012

Eco-worker for the Ocean View Foundation, Rebecca Sprague, has fully mastered the organization for Wednesday’s activity Art and Nature.

The program involves drawing and painting animals, insects or plants, whatever Beckie decides to capture. In the previous few weeks, Art and Nature has hosted dragonflies, butterflies, moths, praying mantises, blackberries and even little grasshoppers. But this past week, she topped herself with more birds. To me it felt like a mini extension to Tuesday’s Bird Banding session. Be warned, this will not happen every week. This was an Art and Nature special that gained a lot of attention from families who had previously been to the Tuesday activity.

OVF Director Kim Gaffett and I caught an extra set of birds Wednesday morning and banded them before everyone arrived. This set turned out to be very diverse. We were able to catch Yellow Throats, Yellow Warblers, Red-Winged Black Birds, Cardinals, Brown-Headed Cow Birds and Song Sparrows among a couple others. I discovered that Red-Winged Black Birds pack a nasty nip with their beaks. They aren’t as bad as cardinals, but this particular one managed to bite a small sliver of flesh from my finger!

The beauty of Art and Nature is that anyone is able to get a few centimetres away from a scaly or fuzzy creature.

If you enjoy creativity or have a knack for skilled artistry, this is a great morning to practice on live models. I had a good time at the program and Beckie’s leadership makes it all the better with brilliant ideas.

Last Friday’s Sense of Wonder Walk with the OVF was also a fantastic experience. A short walk down the beach earned participants an augmented appreciation of the sounds, feels and smells of nature. The walk is at night so we use our sense of sight, that we use all day, every day, at a minimum. At the beach, a small fire (or large when I’m in charge) is lit and toasted marshmallows are passed around. To experience the world through different senses is wondrous, hence the name: The Sense of Wonder. This is an exclusive event that only happens at particular times, so keep your eyes peeled for advertisements.

Sunday’s movie night was also one of the many special events of the week. Director Ian Cheney came over to the island with his 2011 movie “The City Dark.” Taking place in the Harbor Baptist Church, the film is about light pollution in big cities and the impact it has on nature. I’d recommend it. It has a lot of inspiring footage of light’s impact on animals, including sea turtles and birds. Mr. Cheney was also able to arrange interviews with leading scientists and university professors who study the subject and attempt to provide the world with practical solutions to the problems of having big city lights. Mr. Cheney stood up at the front of the audience after the showing and led a question and answer session.

Overall, a very special and thoroughly enjoyable week with lots of one-time or unusual activities that stir the spirit and inspire love for nature.

Comments (1)
Posted by: Enid Thompson | Aug 14, 2012 14:24

Great write-ups, Tom.  I couldn't help but recall that line of the old English nursery rhyme, that goes: "and down came a blackbird and pecked off her nose".  How's that for an old memory?


I've been really impressed by all the activities on BI, especially your descriptions - a bit like your English uncle M, you have a gift for conjuring up the bonfires, the melting marshmallows, or Frozen Lemonade and Doughnuts, to fill the odd moments!  I am hoping there is a lovely evening sun-set in Cumbria tonight, because I think your Mum and sister and he might be celebrating an auspicious birthday together.  With luck the evening will be one to remember, like your recent August sunset photograph.

So pleased to have your lively descriptions of goings-on across the Big Pond, and I shall consult that chart of BI that hangs in my bathroom with renewed interest.

Here's to a few more words from you before the end of a BI summer vacation.






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