Friday, May 6, 2016

A Saratoga County day afoot and on horseback

First: Apologies to readers of All Over Albany's What's Up in the Neighborhood. The post they linked to here regarding the Albany History Fair was accidentally deleted by me whilst trying to make a completely unrelated change to a post. I have not been successful in retrieving it. I am sorry. But since that post was snarky, maybe it was karma. I will try to be kinder in future.

It has been a good long while since I have been able to go out botanizing with the Thursday Naturalists. But yesterday brought a free day for me and a nearby outing planned by them in the Boice Family Park.
Along the Kayaderosseras Creek in Milton, spring hasn't yet quite caught up to some of the other woods and waterways of Saratoga County. We saw a lovely crop of Red trillium, pictured above.
More subtle and easier to miss were the delicate white wood anemones. 

The Thursday Naturalists are an intrepid group of mostly retired folks of a certain age. Their collected wealth of knowledge about the natural world makes a simple stroll through the woods into an educational experience I am always grateful to share. 
And so I wish to address here a lesson about getting into the woods,  with preventative measures, yes, but not with fear. Do you see that small insect perched on the leaf's edge above? It is a tick. There it sits, just waiting for something to brush past it so it can grab on. 
Please do what these venerable naturalists do: take precautions but don't let ticks keep you out of the woods. Wear long white socks and tuck your pant legs into the socks. Get a good bug spray and spray the outside of your pant legs. Check yourself carefully when you get home.

I have been on many a Thursday Naturalist hike into "ticky" areas and have never gotten a tick bite. The few tick bites I have received came after working in my own garden and when I have not been careful. 

So don't avoid the woods. There is so much to see and enjoy there. 

These fiddleheads charmed me yesterday. Those above are the unfurling fronds of a Christmas fern.

I am not certain what kind of ferns these reddish fiddleheads above will become, but they looked lovely against the bright green leaves of false hellebore. 
One sad find was this beautiful blue thrush egg, fallen from a nest we couldn't locate. The egg had probably been left too long unheated to save, but one of our group planned to take it home to try to do so.

The list of plants and flowers identified yesterday is a lengthy one. The Thursday Naturalists have kept records of their walks through many seasons, over many years. I treasure my times tagging along with them.

Late yesterday afternoon, I had my final riding lesson for this spring. Here is sweet Dolly, a rescue horse I rode my last two times at Rolling Oaks.
Dolly is a Morgan mare who spent the first 15 years or so of her life as a buggy horse. Under owner Sue Friday's tutelage, I got to help "re-school" Dolly to be a riding horse. She is very sweet mare and I am happy to report that she is making great progress. 

Although I won't be taking any more riding lessons for a while, I am planning to spend some time at the farm this summer in a different capacity. It turns out that owner Sue Friday is a Certified Special Olympics coach and she will be coaching some aspiring Olympians this summer. This program needs volunteers. I am a retired special ed teacher who loves horses. Hmmm, seems like a pretty good fit for me, eh? 

How about you? Do you have any experience around horses? Have any free time this summer? Here's the scoop:

The program begins June 2 and will run Mondays and Thursdays from about 4-6 pm. (You don't have to commit to coming every single time.)

Duties: Walk alongside a rider and help groom and tack up the horse.

Rolling Oaks is located just north of Saratoga Springs, not far off of Northway Exit 16. Interested in volunteering? Contact: Sue Friday at
 or at for more information.