“It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.”
~Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

It was a cold, crisp morning (nearly freezing) a bit before nine when 19 docents and South Fork workers gathered for coffee and Dutch oven cakes around the blazing fire in the pit before the Riddle Cabin. It was time to gear up for the coming spring classes of students expected at SFNC as they spend the day stamping out the “Nature Deficit Syndrome” (no cell phones allowed). Don Culwell passed out the new Docent Manuals detailing procedures and ideas to use with groups of all ages as South Fork comes alive showing off the woods, the lake edge, the larger animals, and the butterflies that are anticipated in the glades newly managed for milkweed populations.

Marc Hirrel gave the group instructions on using and recording data at the new weather station that he and Suzanne had just donated and installed; air temperature, ground temperature, and precipitation are recorded daily each week. On the trail back to the cabin they led an exercise that can be done with groups using CO2 concentrations stated from 1800 to the present noted beside a time line along the trail; the question asked at each stop, after a reading and a given CO2 concentration, was “is this science or policy?” (Time line graphs of CO2 concentrations were drawn from data that was given at each stop.) So, just what is global warming, anyway?

Janet Miron, the new president of GRF (SFNC Board) challenged docents in their work and spoke about new developments on the grounds, namely a large outdoor classroompavilion enhanced for student use that is about to be constructed at South Fork.

Use of the cabin facilities and contents (even lighting of lanterns) was discussed pointing out the use of ID manuals, binoculars, scopes, collections of dried fruits, etc., as groups gather during the year to learn about the environment.

After filing one’s coffee cup several times during the morning from the old porcelain pot, the group broke up just after 12:00. Another fine day in nature!