A Little Blarney from Ballycotton Press and Annie

Before I begin my second blog I must say I already broke the promise I made to myself to blog weekly. “Life” got in the way and time got away from me. I am sure you all know that feeling and missed deadlines in your mind, and I did say in my first blog I would try to write weekly, but life is full of good intentions. And so, I begin my second blog with thoughts of Noel and the Granda Tree.


Granda Tree and BoysI have been volunteering 4-5 days a month at the Peter and Mary Muth Interpretive Center at the Upper Newport Bay Nature Center. I sit at the front desk, answer questions, show the film, assist the Park Rangers, and give information on the nature center as well as the estuary. This center is very important to me as Noel and I began bringing the boys to the 2-8 year olds program over eight years ago. Ranger Sue would read a story, while the boys sat on a carpet, let them do a nature craft and then take them on a short hike on the trails. Noel loved to hike with the boys, share his love of flowers, birds, and the Back Bay. All of our Grandsons have spent time at the center and love the classroom. They have enjoyed many hikes and like the freedom the Rangers gave them to explore the trails and the environment.

Granda Tree signUpon Noel’s death our family decided to donate, in Noel’s honor, something to the center. The Rangers requested a large artificial tree be placed in the classroom. The ‘Granda Tree’ was dedicated in 2011 with all seven Grandsons in attendance.

The tree is a large Sycamore tree. The wide trunk has an opening for beanbag chairs and pillows for children to sit on and read. There is also a place for a curtain and holes for puppets, so children can put on a proper puppet show. I often go into the classroom and see children happily playing in and around the tree. The Rangers have decorated the tree with lights among its leaves as well as a wise old owl sitting in the branches. A rustic wooden sign, GRANDA TREE, is attached to the tree, a tribute to a wonderful Granda who taught the boys a love of nature and their environment. The tree stands proudly in the classroom that is filled with puppets, puzzles, coloring books, snakes, fish, frogs, a bearded dragon, tarantulas, turtles, and curious children with their parents and caregivers.

I have recently been reminded, by each of my grandsons, the importance of the time we spent at the Back Bay. I would like to share the following with all of you.

RangerSueScott, age 11, was on a field trip last week in Florida and sent me pictures of two interesting birds and a beautiful shell that he thought I would like to see. Declan, age 6, was asked to write about his hero. He wrote, “Ranger Sue is my hero as she teaches me about bugs, plants and animals.” Johnathan, age 9, wanted a bearded dragon, like in the center’s classroom, and took his new pet, Spike, to visit Ranger Sue to find out how to care for him. Austin, age 6, also spoke to Ranger Sue about his new hamster, Whiskers, and learned about how to keep him in his cage, as well as he likes to feed and watch the birds. Brady, age 3, likes to visit the classroom and sit in the tree, play with the puzzles and puppets, and wander the back offices of the Rangers. He also likes to smell flowers and show Gramma the birds flying overhead. On my visit to Florida, last September, Grant, age 9, and Zach, age 6, wanted to show me what they had discovered in their new neighborhood, from birds to frogs. Each of the boys has a keen awareness of nature and his environment. I would love to think that the experience that Noel and I gave the boys at the Muth Center gave each of them a foundation and curiosity to explore and protect nature for their lifetime.

“For the child, it is not half so important to know as to feel. If facts are the seeds that later produce knowledge and wisdom, then the emotions and the impressions of the senses are the fertile soil in which the seeds must grow. The years of early childhood are the time to prepare the soil. Once the emotions have been aroused—a sense of the beautiful, the excitement of the new and the unknown, a feeling of sympathy, pity, admiration or love—then we wish for knowledge about the object of our emotional response… It is more important to pave the way for a child to want to know than to put him on a diet of facts that he is not ready to assimilate.” –Rachel Carson

Enjoy the Moments!