Spring Gifts from Cricket Hill Garden for Mother’s Day

Cricket Hill Garden in Thomaston on 670 Walnut Hill Road is expecting to be in full peony bloom soon. Founded in 1989 by Kasha and David Furman with a focus on Chinese Tree Peonies they were one of the first nurseries in the United States to sell true-to-name varieties of these rare and beautiful plants. Like all of nature’s creations, peony blossoms come in a variety of shapes with interesting names from Lotus that is a semi-double bloom to hundred proliferate that is a double bloom and thousand petals crown just to name a few types of blooms.

This year Cricket Hill Garden is open for curbside pick-up on Tuesdays – Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. To choose your plant, be sure to browse their selection of potted peonies and potted fruit trees and berry bushes before you arrive. It is easy to place your order online and to pick the plants up. The plants will be in the pickup area with your last name and order number clearly marked.

If you are in the market for a Mother’s Day gift, Cricket Hill Garden will be happy to ship the peonies of your choice with the added bonus of 15% off to commemorate Mother’s Day. Peonies available for shipping include the magnificent imperial reign, rose scattered with gold, multi colored butterfly, capital red, Hubei blue, cinnamon pink, ancient red, paeonia anomala and paeonia japonica.

How to Keep Kids Busy and Learning in May Inside with IAIS (Institute for American Indian Studies) Online Videos 2 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday Videos

Many states including Connecticut are on pause and parents are faced with the challenge of keeping their children occupied. Most experts suggest that setting up a routine is important because it makes children feel safe. Staying active and finding activities that educate and entertain at the same time is an important step in the right direction.

With that in mind, the Institute for American Indian Studies in Washington, Connecticut has created “Inside with IAIS,” a series of online video programs that will make the most of quarantine for adults and children alike. Thanks to technology, spending time with the Institute and its’ educators is something that you and your family can do through May on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 2 p.m. on Facebook from the comfort of your home.

Museum educators have been hard at work shooting new online videos that show everything from survival skills using Native American techniques to gardening, and traditional storytelling. Programs on survival skills will show what tools Native Americans made and used to survive in the Eastern Woodlands, with many of these methods still used today. Viewers will also learn about the origin and importance of the three sisters garden that is grown every year on the grounds of the museum. There will be tips on how to start your own three sisters’ garden right in your own backyard!

And then there is storytime, perfect for the whole family. Native American stories have been handed down generation to generation for centuries to preserve their culture. Darlene Kascak, a traditional Native American storyteller, who is a member of the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation explains the cultural importance of these stories and why they have inspired her and countless others. Traditional Native American stories present essential ideas and values in simple and entertaining ways that show both the positive and the negative. These stories always, teach an important life lesson about things like love, leadership, honor, our connection to the earth, and our relationship with animals that are often depicted through storytelling.

Not to be missed are the programs with an archeological flavor. There will be several fascinating programs on the importance of different artifacts in the museum’s collection and how they relate to and connect cultures all across North and South America. In another presentation, viewers will dig into the past as they learn about Templeton archeological site, Connecticut’s oldest Paleo-Indian site, located minutes from the museum. An additional program on the process of archeological excavations and a virtual scavenger hunt that is sure to intrigue and entertain are also on the schedule.

About The Institute for American Indian Studies
Located on 15 acres of woodland acres the Institute For American Indian Studies preserves and educates through archeology, research, exhibitions, and programs. They have the 16th c. Algonquian Village, Award-Winning Wigwam Escape, and a museum with temporary and permanent displays of authentic artifacts from prehistory to the present that allows visitors to foster a new understanding of the world and the history and culture of Native Americans. The Institute for American Indian Studies is located on 38 Curtis Road, Washington, CT.

List of Inside with IAIS Videos

How to Use an Atatl

Foraging – Cattails
Tales from the Rabbit Bag – the Unfinished Creatures

A Walk in the Woods

Archeology – Rocks on the Move

How the Chipmunk Got its’ stripes

Inside Community – https://www.facebook.com/IAISMuseum/videos/3047169402008405/

Nature Journaling for Kids https://www.facebook.com/IAISMuseum/videos/236181334191364/

Difference between natural rocks and artifacts https://www.facebook.com/IAISMuseum/videos/636067410292358/

Outdoor Survival Shelter Building – https://www.facebook.com/IAISMuseum/videos/618339135563401/

Native American Story About Frogs – https://www.facebook.com/IAISMuseum/videos/245374036631763/

This Summer Sail Away For An Island Adventure With the Seaport Association

There is no need to travel far for an island adventure this summer. Scheduled to start Memorial Day Weekend, the 45-foot catamaran C.J. Toth will depart regularly from Norwalk, in Connecticut’s Fairfield County, for the scenic 45-minute cruise to Sheffield Island. Passengers will enjoy a few hours of picnicking, tours of the historic lighthouse, shell hunting, and walks to view the colorful sea birds sheltered in the marshes and sandy shores of the Stewart B. McKinney Wildlife Refuge.

The Seaport Association, located in Norwalk, is a volunteer organization formed in 1978 by a group of local citizens who had the vision to revitalize South Norwalk and preserve Norwalk’s maritime heritage. The Association’s greatest responsibility is to continually restore and maintain Sheffield Island and its’ 152-year-old stone lighthouse and lightkeepers cottage.

This historic lighthouse is an iconic symbol of Connecticut’s maritime history. It is located at the southern end of Norwalk’s necklace of islands on the west entrance of the Norwalk River in Long Island Sound. A highlight of this cruise is the journey itself. The cruise allows passengers to experience the beauty of Norwalk from the water with wonderful views of the shoreline, surrounding islands, and the Norwalk harbor. The fresh sea breeze and birdlife are enjoyed by passengers in the comfort of the Seaport’s modern vessel to and from the island.

The Association has 2020 summer plans for many special outings from clambakes on the island every Thursday night to acoustic cruises on Wednesday and sunset cruises on Friday and Saturday evenings. In July and August, the vessel offers scenic excursions to Sheffield Islands twice a day, seven days a week, weather permitting.

There are also several special interest cruises planned this summer that include bird watching, yoga on the beach, and Italian and BBQ nights in the newly built wooden pavilion, that is also available to rent for private parties. New this year is a Native American program on the island that will show how indigenous people thrived on the Connecticut shoreline. The annual pirates weekend in July and the haunted lighthouse in August offer child-friendly fun and activities for children. The Annual Oyster Festival, a Connecticut maritime tradition, now in its 43rd year is slated for September 11-13, 2020.

Virtual Hike with White Memorial Foundation and More

If you are bored and stuck at home why not take a virtual walk with Carrie Szwed and education director at White Memorial Foundation in Litchfield on April 30 at 4 p.m.

Barred Owl ~ Photo credit: Leo Kulinski, Jr. http://www.leokulinskijr.com

Get ready to walk virtually on one of White Memorial’s most beautiful trails from the comfort of your home! Let Carrie Szwed, Education Director, be your eyes, ears, and legs as she hikes the ¼ mile Ongley Pond Trail and points out some of the natural wonders that make this trail so special. To participate click here.

If you are feeling stressed, don’t miss the chance to dive deep into nature with Marlow Shami on Saturday, May 2 at 10 am. This is your chance to participate in a guided meditation each week designed to support relaxation and restoration with Nature during these uncertain times. Refresh yourself while reveling in the synergy we create in our group meditation. For meditation click here.

Photo credit ~ Matt Balnis

White Memorial has also launched a new nature series called Nature’s News. Each video will include an explanation of several natural phenomena, as well as a live animal demonstration, and a suggestion for a nature activity that can be tried at home. To locate these videos click here.

White Memorial also has 30 plus miles of trails. When enjoying White Memorial please be respectful and courteous to others, and follow the social distance etiquette. If you arrive at trail and crowds are forming, choose another trail.
Observe the CDC’s minimum recommended social distancing of six feet from other people, whether you’re walking, biking, or hiking. Practice it and know what it looks like. Warn other trail users of your presence and as you pass to allow proper distance and step off trails to allow others to pass, keeping minimum recommended distances at all times.

The number one priority will always be the health and safety of our visitors and staff. They have instituted the following protocols: The Little Pond Boardwalk is closed until further notice. All programs canceled through May 21, 2020. This includes public programs and school programs. The Nature Museum will be closed until further notice. The White Memorial property will remain open to visitors. Outhouses will be closed with a tentative opening date of May 22, 2020.

The Seaport Association’s Legacy Bricks Honor the Past and Help Pave Our Future

Have you ever wanted your name or the name of someone you wish to commemorate etched in stone? The Seaport Association’s Legacy Brick program offers the public the rare opportunity to secure a place in Connecticut’s maritime history through the purchase of a personalized brick that will be placed in front of the Lighthouse on Sheffield Island.

“Since 1978 the Seaport Association has maintained Sheffield Island and it’s 152 year-old-lighthouse. We created this program as a chance for all lovers of Long Island Sound and Sheffield Island’s Lighthouse and Lightkeepers cottage to commemorate their support for the mission of the Seaport Association. Everyone has been very supportive of this program because they are proud to be a part of our maritime heritage and our mission of preservation and education,” said Mike Reilly, President of the Seaport Association. Proceeds from the Legacy Brick program will be used to defray the cost of maintaining the island and lighthouse.

Fans of the Seaport Association that want to be a part of the Legacy Brick program can secure bricks in two sizes 4×8 or 8×8 and can order the bricks with just text or with text and clip art. To view samples of legacy bricks and to purchase online click here. Along with the personally engraved bricks, fans will receive a notice of when the brick is placed and a certificate of ownership.

About the Seaport Association

The Norwalk Seaport Association was founded in 1978 by a group of local citizens who had the vision to revitalize South Norwalk and preserve Norwalk’s maritime heritage.

The Norwalk Seaport Association offers a cultural, environmental, and historical journey to the Norwalk Islands. The Sheffield Island Lighthouse and the Light Keeper’s Cottage provide a unique historical and educational venue, which strives to increase awareness, appreciation, and consideration for our environment and how the preservation of historic buildings and nature contributes to our quality of life.

It is our belief that preservation strengthens the perpetual partnership between the past, the present, and the future. The combination of the Lighthouse and the Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge offers an unparalleled opportunity to educate children of all ages and adults about the importance of preserving Long Island Sound, our environment, and maritime heritage.

Inside with the Institute for American Indian Studies & Give Local

There are many inspirational stories about how different museums, companies, and individuals are coping with the social distancing restrictions brought about as a result of COVID19. The Institute for American Indian Studies https://www.iaismuseum.org has a few stories of its own and launched a series called “Inside with IAIS” in March that will continue in April and May.

Back by popular demand and social distancing restrictions, the IAIS is continuing its video series “Inside with IAIS”. The educational staff at the Institute has pivoted from on-grounds educational programs to internet-based, distance learning programs that are entertaining and educational for the whole family. These programs will take place in April on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 2 p.m. on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/IAISMuseum

On Wednesday, April 22 at 2 pm join Susan and Darlene for a look at two-eyed seeing and gardening. You will be amazed at what you can learn from plants. The highlight of this program is a look at Traditional Ecological Knowledge about plants and the lessons it can teach for our gardens today.​

On Friday, April, 24, education coordinator and storyteller, Darlene Kascak, STN, will share another story at 2 pm from the rabbit bag.

To round out the month of April, on Wednesday, April 29 at 2 pm join Assistant Director and Lead Curator Paul Wegner for an explanation of how archaeologists use ceramics to uncover hidden histories of the past.

Today also marks the beginning of Give Local that runs April 21 – 22. Your contribution to the Institute for American Indian Studies will help them teach important history. As an added bonus, this year they are also including a museum membership when you donate at the $50, $75 or $100+ level. Support your local Native American museum and enjoy all the benefits of membership! You’ll have until 7pm tomorrow (April 22nd) to donate! Click here and Give Local today.​