December Nature Walk

On Sunday, December 5, our church’s Eco Team held its fifth Nature Walk of the year, this one led by Cape Elizabeth’s Andrea Southworth, a biology and botany professor at Southern Maine Community College.

Andrea Southworth

On a crisp but invigorating late fall afternoon, Andrea led 20 from the church and community for 2-plus miles, exploring the changes that take place in Robinson Woods from fall to winter.

Throughout the walk, Andrea frequently stopped to discuss the wonder, beauty and diversity of Robinson Woods even though most of the color from the fall was gone and many of the trees were bare.

She also took the time to point out problems, such as the way the Woolly Adgelgid, an insect from Japan is infesting the hemlock trees and likely could kill them.

White spots are evidence of the Woolly Adelgid

Her discoveries included pointing out mosses, ferns and lichen, partridge berry hobblebush, bunchberry holly, winterberry holly and wild blueberries.

Club Moss Fern
Partridge Berry
Micro Lichen
Winterberry Holly
Witches Butter Slime Mold

Along the pond, Andrea showed the group new plantings of sycamore trees the Cape Elizabeth Land Trust has been working on. Andrea is a member of CELT and had her mother send sycamore rootings from Virginia.

Sycamore tree plantings

Andrea explained how the Land Trust has been working to keep native plants flourishing, introducing new wildflowers, while doing their best to eliminate invasive plants like bittersweet.

The walk was an incredible adventure with most of us learning about parts of the woods we often walk past without ever noticing.

After the walk, everyone met with Andrea and Pastor Priscilla Dreyman in the church’s Fellowship Hall, sharing hot chocolate and cookies and creating Christmas decorations from pine cones, walnuts, and dried clementines.

Andrea also shared the Victorian tradition of poking cloves in oranges, creating a wonderful scent for the season.

Andrea displayed many of her creations from before the walk on a branch from an Autumn Olive, an invasive tree she had pruned back.

While the afternoon’s activities wound down, some were still busy finishing their own unique natural creations:

Thank you to Andrea for sharing her knowledge and passion in such a fun and educational way!

The Eco Team’s next event is the showing of the award-winning film “Kiss the Ground” at the church and on Zoom on Monday, Jan. 17 at 7 p.m.

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