Naturally Curious in October

October is a sensory month in New Hampshire; the summer has ended and hints of cooler weather remind us that winter is on its way. There is a flurry of natural activity! Let’s take a look.

Look up! Approximately 500 species of land birds leave their northern breeding ground for southern wintering grounds every year. Migratory flocks of birds travel during the day and at night. Night fliers call back and forth to one another to maintain contact. Listen — do you hear them?

Look down! Wooly bears are on a mission to find their winter shelters, and Eastern chipmunks are busily collecting nuts and seeds to store for winter. Chipmunks collect and transport their winter food supply in two large cheek pockets. Watch — do you see them?

Listen! The woodlands are alive with the dropping of deciduous tree leaves and the dispersal of many seeds. Plants rely on wind, water, animals, and gravity to distribute their seeds to distant locations. Some plants grow all over the world because the wind does such a good job of moving their seeds. Can you feel the wind?


Mary Holland’s book Naturally Curious is a month-by-month journey through the fields, woods, and marshes of New England; a truly phenomenal resource for nature education. Check out her blog: Naturally Curious with Mary Holland.

FUN With Your Family

August is Family Fun Month! There are only a few weeks left before school starts. Here are some fun and creative ideas to have fun with your family. How many can you complete this month?

1. Visit a local park: Go for a walk, toss a frisbee, pack a lunch, and don’t forget your picnic blanket!

2. Host a dance party: Turn your living room into a party zone by dressing up in funky clothes, dimming the lights, and turning on your favorite dance music. Disco ball is optional!

3. Beach outing: We are lucky to live in an area close to the beach, take full advantage while there is still a little bit of warmth! Take your kids out to the beach and let them boogie board while you soak up some sun and relax.

4. Book Night! You don’t always have to leave the house to have fun. Take a trip to the local library and check out some books so you can huddle up with your family and read. You might want to include a longer novel where everyone can read a chapter or two.

5. Scavenger hunt: Give your kids a list of things that they will need to find around the house or in your neighborhood. Have some prizes ready for the person who finds all items on the list!

6. Backyard movie night: Why not watch a movie in your own makeshift movie theater? Play your family’s favorite movie using a projector and a blank wall. Make sure to pop some popcorn!


Strawberries, Blueberries, Raspberries… Oh My!

Many people wonder why New Englanders love living here, why we suffer through months and months of cold and snow and mud. One of the best reasons to live in New England: berry season. Now is the time, my friends. Don’t hold back. Pick as many of these delicious fruits as you can, share them with your family and friends, hide some in your freezer for fall smoothies or winter pancakes, and take some time to let the sun on your face while you enjoy the sweet taste of fresh picked berries.

Did you know that eating blueberries can protect against memory loss? Learn more about these healthful fruits!

Where do you go berry picking? Seacoast Harvest, a project of Seacoast Eat Local, offers a searchable index of local farms. If you want to pick berries, make sure to search pick-your-own. If you want to visit a farm to buy berries, simply look for local farms that offer the product you want. You can also find fresh berries at your local farmers market!

What are your favorite berry recipes? How do you incorporate them into your meals or snacks?

CSA: Local Food Opportunities

Last Saturday was CSA day at Seacoast Eat Local’s Exeter Winter Farmers Market. If you were in a saddened state because you missed this great event, I have some good news: a second CSA day will take place on February 22 at the Wentworth Greenhouses Farmers Market in Rollinsford. Click here for a list of the farms that you might see at CSA day.

What is a CSA, you might ask? CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture, and is an opportunity for a farm and its customer to form a direct relationship. CSA members make a commitment to a farm by purchasing a “share” of the harvest in advance of the growing season. This commitment provides farmers with the capital they need early in the year to buy seeds and supplies. In return, members receive a weekly “share” of the farm’s harvest: fresh, in-season, high quality food grown and harvested on the farm. Depending on the farm and CSA you choose, this food could include vegetables, fruit, eggs, meat, dairy products, grains, or more.

Not only is a CSA a great way to secure fresh, local food for your family; it can be a wonderful opportunity to learn about local farms, introduce your family to the benefits of supporting local businesses, maintain good health, and get creative in your kitchen. In some cases, joining a CSA can even offer the opportunity to get your hands dirty on the farm. Is there a better way to educate our youth about food and health?

There are many local farms offering different types of CSA shares. For a searchable list of CSA farms in the NH seacoast area, visit For a nationwide directory, visit


The Y: A Hub Of Community

My Y story began nearly 40 years ago when the Valley Shore YMCA was built within walking distance of my home in Westbrook, CT. I have great childhood memories of participating in open swim with my friends and learning how to ski through the afterschool ski program at Powder Ridge, also fondly known as “Powder Bump.”

As a young adult I didn’t wander too far from the Y path; in 1988 I became the Assistant Physical Education Director at the Westerly-Pawtucket YMCA in Westerly, Rhode Island. It was there that my passion and understanding of the YMCA and its mission deepened. The Y was a hub of activity, people of all ages – from preschool to senior citizens – participated in Aquacise, Aerobics, Mommy & Me, gym and swim programs, basketball leagues, and Friday Night Teen Nights…the Y was alive and buzzing with the sounds of a community gathered together. The Y was the place where the whole family could participate in programs that focused on healthy bodies, mind, and spirit while incorporating the 4 Core Y Values of: Caring, Honesty, Respect & Responsibility.

My work with the Y continued at the Coastline YMCA in Waterford, CT. Because the Coastline Y did not include program space we collaborated with the local community to run our programs; great partnerships developed. The pool at Connecticut College was the home for our swim lessons and gym programs; we worked with the towns of Waterford and New London and ran our summer day camps at their town parks. Progressive Learn to Swim programs were offered at the New London elementary schools, during school hours, for all New London children in grades 1 – 3. This was an important program for these youth because many of these children, although they lived in a seaside community, due to economics, would never have had the opportunity to learn to swim unless a program was offered during the school day. The children traveled by bus to the high school where they participated in 45 minute swim lessons and then were transported back to their school. It was the YMCA at its best…providing a necessary program to a needy population!

Although my involvement with the YMCA has changed over the last fifteen years my passion for the ‘Y’ and its mission was re-ignited when asked to be a community volunteer and to help with the new Y that will be built in Exeter. It is so exciting to visualize a full YMCA facility that will serve the Exeter area community…I am thrilled to be a part of a community where the Y will be the hub of family and community activity.

Cindy Malinowski Driscoll lives in East Kingston with her family and is the owner of Meandering Path, a landscape design and installation company.

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Phillips Exeter Serves at Camp Lincoln

Hundreds of employees from Phillips Exeter Academy participated in three major community service projects in the local area on August 29. Offices closed as PEA employees gave back to their local communities while building and enhancing connections among its diverse employee population. A team worked tirelessly at Camp Lincoln to paint cabins, install and repair benches, install stairs in the Amphitheater and Lakeside Stage, and more. Thank you, PEA employees! We couldn’t do it without you.

Thank you, Phillips Exeter Academy faculty and staff, for extending the life of our cabins, making our footpaths safer, putting fresh life into weathered tables, and bringing your vibrant spirit of community to Camp Lincoln. Camp kids and staff are very appreciative!

See more photos, show your appreciation, join the conversation: #PEAserves

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Stay Active And Local This Spring

Spring has sprung! After a rainy spell, most of us are headed outside to get some exercise and enjoy the warm weather. Here are a few local ideas for you and your family to stay active this spring.

Explore your local Farmer’s Market Many of our communities have an organized weekly or bi-weekly Farmer’s Market. In addition to shopping for healthy, well-grown vegetables, fruit, meat, eggs and dairy products, some markets provide an activity for children and families. In Exeter, Let’s Get Movin’ offers yoga and crafts during the market. A local organization, Seacoast Eat Local, has created a Local Food Guide called Seacoast Harvest with information about our 33 local Farmer’s Markets!

Discover Seacoast area State Parks There are more than 10 State Parks in Seacoast NH alone! That is a full summer of swimming, hiking, camping, picnicking and more! Check out this list of local State Parks on the New Hampshire State Parks website and start exploring!

Take a hike on a Rail Trail The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy is a non-profit dedicated to creating a network of trails from former rail lines and building healthier places for healthier people. The Seacoast is full of rail trails of varying distances! Check out the Rails-to-Trails map to find a trail near you!

Kids- ask you parents to help you explore your local environment! The Southern District YMCA wishes you safe and fun exploration this spring!