Monday, July 11, 2011


I could take lovely hikes or arboretum walks any time. But children sometimes need a goal. Letterboxing fits the bill. I first read about it about 5 years ago in Family Fun magazine. The internet is quite amazing. Here's the article.

All around the country and even across the world, individuals, scout groups and others set out letterboxes containing a stamp, an ink pad, and a recording book. They post directions on this wonderful website. People can go with their own letterboxing book or kit and collect memorable hikes and experiences as they fill their book.

It's easy to make a letterboxing kit. All you need is a small book, your own purchased or homemade stamp, an ink pad, and perhaps a pen or pencil. We keep ours in the car with some printed directions to different letterboxes.

Here's a photo of the first page of our book from Oct. 2006:

Here's a favorite page from a hike called Grandkids. Throughout a NJ park, a Grandmother and her grandkids gave instruction to 4 different sites where they set homemade stamp kits. Very cute.

In NJ, we did a couple letterbox hikes per year. Last year, we found our first MA letterbox by accident while hiking around a local woods. We had to go back with our letter box kit.

Yesterday I set out with Renee to purposefully explore the Arnold Arboretum and follow the directions to this letterbox. The arboretum evidently sets up a different one each month. Finding it combines fun and a lesson about a species that is particularly showy in that season. July's tree was the silk tree. As we walked through the Arboretum we were guided to a number of specimens of this species, and got to see lots of other interesting things.

We touched a cork tree. It really felt soft and cushiony.

We found a trufula tree (actually a smoke tree).

Finally, we found the letterbox under the silk tree. It was covered with flowers that looked like pink tipped feathers.

Try letterboxing. It's lots of fun. It's best to sort letterboxes in your area by the date they were placed. Older boxes can sometimes go missing leading to disappointment.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Summer's Here

Summer harvests are here. And we are savoring the tastes. We have had 4 weeks of CSA boxes now. There have been lots of lettuces, herbs and other greens and radishes. Our favorites were the shelling peas. There are never enough. So as an experiment I bought some additional ones from the supermarket. Big mistake, after eating the share peas, supermarket ones were nearly inedible. We're moving on to summer squash, brightly colored carrots, and fava beans.

The cows and pigs across the street are growing. That farmstand now has the best sausage and bacon I've ever tasted. Guilt free! Or guilt free when used in small doses with all those great veggies.We got some wonderful corn there yesterday.

Corn should always be shucked while wearing a yellow bathing suit.

Our own garden is producing too:

yesterday's beans

yesterday's raspberries

R's July 4th breakfast with our own raspberries

Squash flowers are blooming, and tiny cucumbers are developing, but something has eaten some of the leaves off those plants. I'm concerned for their future and hoping for the best.