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By Don Culwell

Saturday, May 4…the day began as the sun peeked through the sky, but clouds began to creep in above as the temperature of the morning hovered around a cool 50 degrees. Hot coffee or hot chocolate with a warm cup in hand felt good and the fire in the old iron stove in the cabin wasn’t half bad either. But the warmth of visiting with neighbors, friends, and docents as people gathered in the cabin or around the picnic tables to enjoy nature once more was not dampened…spirits ran high!

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Sure enough, around 10:00 am, in came the group of middle school kids that had called…they were ready for the scavenger hunt and they were not disappointed! Shirley Pratt got them off to their destinations where docents led them in search of life in the ecosystems out over at the waterfall, out on the point, and then deep in the woods. Those of us remaining at the cabin knew when their hunt had ended, for there was whoopin’ and hollerin’ as the gang came bounding back on the trail!

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Other visitors during the day got to hear about the plans for South Fork and its activities: building an outdoor classroom with restrooms, one that would accommodate groups of school kids out for an all day learning experience as well as groups that sit at tables to study and enjoy aspects of the out-of-doors (and, of course, putting in a water line from up the hill on Klondike), building an amphitheater into the hillside, and planning for a grant that will restore the ten acres of glade near the bluffs on the peninsula.

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Docents took visitors out from the cabin on the trail around the seep and the glade, even in the heavy mist that occasionally hung in the air. Those wanting memberships to South Fork found them, although membership into South Fork is not necessary in order to be a part of activities or walk the trails…when noon arrived, lunch was served for all hungry persons: burgers and dogs fresh off the charcoal grill.

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The landscape on the edge of the woods at South Fork was highlighted with the striking red flower clusters, like so many Christmas trees, in the tops of the red buckeye shrubs. Growing low to the ground, only six or eight inches tall was a population of the southern twayblade orchids, a population that is the northern-most in the region; each plant has a stalk bearing only two, small, thumbnail size leaves above which sit a dozen or so tiny, maroon flowers…so very dainty. There must have been forty to fifty plants growing on the slope in the woods beside the cabin…and one had to look hard to see them.

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Visitors to South Fork that day had not been in anticipated numbers. But the weather was not what had been “ordered,” either. Yet, the cooler than expected air around us and the cloudy, somewhat drippy weather, were just parts of another day in the life of the woods, a woods that is always vibrant with life and excitement!

It’s too bad you may have missed it!