Monday, July 7, 2014

No-Fuss River Excursions


Every year, as spring turns into summer, I find myself drawn to the North and South Rivers. The marsh is vibrant green, the water reflects the bright blue sky, and the breezes are just right for cooling off on a hot day. Of course, actually coordinating a trip on the rivers with my canoe or kayak is another story! Weather, tides, personal schedules, and transportation are all part of the planning process, not to mention gathering my gear and making sure it’s still in working order. Occasionally everything falls into place and I find myself sitting happily in my boat, paddling up- (or down-) stream, promising myself I will not let so much time go by before the next excursion.

If you’re interested in seeing what our local rivers are all about, but maybe not-so-interested in the logistics of getting there, you might consider a guided, outfitted class or trip. The North and South Rivers Watershed Association (NSRWA) has made such trips a part of their activity roster in the last few years. They offer both lessons and guided tours, with equipment included. It’s totally worth the cost, to have someone else provide your equipment and show you around!

Below is a listing of what the NSRWA is offering this summer. If you’d like to experience the beauty and serenity of the North or South River with a minimum of fuss, here’s your chance!

Learn To Kayak
Friday July 25, 12-2pm
Sunday, August 10, 12-2pm
Coastal Kayak Educators provides all equipment, as well as expert group instruction for children and adults ages 8 and up in this 2.5-hour course (children must be accompanied by an adult). Meet at the Union Street Bridge Conservation Area in Marshfield and learn the basics of kayaking on the North River, with an emphasis on safety. Pre-registration required. For details, visit www.nsrwa.org.

Scenic North River Tours
Saturday July 26, 1-3 pm
Sunday, August 3 – 6:30-8:30pm
Saturday, August 23 – 12:30-2:30pm
This tour is recommended for kayakers with some experience, ages 8 and up (children must be accompanied by an adult). Coastal Kayak Educators provides all equipment, and leads the group on a 2-hour tour of river, beginning at the Union Street Bridge in Marshfield. Pre-registration required. For details, visit www.nsrwa.org.

Historic North River Kayaking Tour
Sunday, August 24, 11am-3pm
For ages 8 and up (children must be accompanied by an adult), and led by Coastal Kayak Educators, this is a leisurely 8.5-mile paddling excursion. It will delve into the North River’s role in the lives of Native Americans, colonial shipbuilders, the industrial revolution, and the modern day era, and will examine how its ecology has changed throughout time. The tour begins at the Union Street Bridge Conservation Area in Marshfield. All equipment is provided, and there will be a lunch break at Couch Beach in Marshfield. Pre-registration required. For details, visit www.nsrwa.org.

Stand Up Paddling Lessons on the South River
Thursday July 17 at 6pm
Monday Aug 4 at 6pm
Monday Aug 18 at 6pm
This 1.5 hour lesson on the South River was one of the best of my recent “new experiences,” and much easier than I anticipated. Learn to stand up paddle (SUP) with the NSRWA and Luminate Surf & Skate on the river and marsh creeks near Rexhame Beach in Marshfield. All equipment is provided. Pre-registration required. For details, visit www.nsrwa.org.

by Kezia Bacon, Correspondent
June, 2014

Kezia Bacon's articles appear courtesy of the North and South Rivers Watershed Association, a local non-profit organization devoted to the preservation, restoration, maintenance and conservation of the North and South Rivers and their watershed. For membership information and a copy of their latest newsletter, contact NSRWA at (781) 659-8168 or visit www.nsrwa.org. To browse 15 years of Nature (Human and Otherwise) columns, visit http://keziabaconbernstein.blogspot.com

Monday, June 2, 2014

Science Fridays in the ‘Shed



For those of us with school age children, summer vacation presents both joys and challenges. It can be a welcome reprieve, not having to adhere to the bus and school routine five days a week. On the other hand, the relaxed schedule can be a mixed blessing: lots of opportunities to do those things for which we haven’t had time all year, but also lots of hours to fill.

If, like me, you’re home at least part-time with your kid(s) during these 10-or-so weeks, you may be looking for new ways to spend your days. Especially mid-summer, after the novelty of not having to rush out the door in the morning has worn off, and the word “bored” is showing up in conversations, you may be wondering what’s out there. We are fortunate, here on the South Shore, to have nearly endless options.  

There are camps, there are day programs, there are all sorts of events offered through local libraries and recreation departments. Blueberry picking (Scituate, Hanson) is always a favorite of ours, as are group explorations of conservation areas where the kids can enjoy unstructured play. The places we’ve enjoyed most so far, with our crew of friends (ages 5-10) and their parents, are Willow Brook Farm in Pembroke, Couch Beach (via Couch Cemetery) in North Marshfield, and the Norris Reservation in Norwell. All offer well-shaded trails and a respite from the summer heat.

One relatively new option on the local scene is offered by the North and South Rivers Watershed Association (NSRWA): a series of outdoors explorations for families otherwise known as Science Fridays in the ‘Shed.

Last year my son and I participated in the very first Science Friday. We joined a small group of parents and children, along with Samantha Woods and Sara Grady from the NSRWA, and hiked out from Third Cliff in Scituate to The Spit at the mouth of the North River. Along the way, we tested the salinity of marsh creeks, learned about some of the grasses and other vegetation that grows in the zone between the land and the sea, and kept our eyes open for shorebirds and horseshoe crabs. The trip was timed for low tide, so we could spend most of our time checking out the tide pools – familiarizing ourselves with the creatures and plants that make their home among the rocks at the edge of the ocean.

This year the NSRWA has expanded its Science Friday program. There will be four trips this summer, each on a Friday morning from 10-12.

On July 11th, you can learn about freshwater tributaries at the Norris Reservation in Norwell, through which Second Herring Brook flows as it makes its way to the North River.

On July 18th, NSRWA returns to The Spit in Scituate for tidepooling and barrier beach geology.

On July 25th, they will be exploring the North River marshes, via the Messer Conservation Area, off Union Street in North Marshfield.

And on August 15th, there will be a freshwater tidal exploration on the Indian Head River, at the Hanover Canoe Launch.

All of the programs are designed to introduce children and their families to the different habitats and ecology within the North and South Rivers watershed, aka “the ‘shed.” Participants will be actively engaged in collecting field data, and will use scientific sampling gear to analyze water quality and identify plants and animals.

Pre-registration is required. The best way is to sign up online at www.nsrwa.org. The cost is $5 per person for NSRWA members, $10 for non-members, and – this is the best part – no charge for kids 12 and under.

Last year the program sold out, so if you’re interested, consider signing up right away. If your children are at all interested in natural history, ecology, or outdoor exploration, you’ll be glad you did.

 by Kezia Bacon 
May 2014

Kezia Bacon's articles appear courtesy of the North and South Rivers Watershed Association, a local non-profit organization devoted to the preservation, restoration, maintenance and conservation of the North and South Rivers and their watershed. For membership information and a copy of their latest newsletter, contact NSRWA at (781) 659-8168 or visit www.nsrwa.org. To browse 15 years of Nature (Human and Otherwise) columns, visit http://keziabaconbernstein.blogspot.com