Wild Weekend is right!

Hey folks! Wow this week has put the ‘Wild’ in Wild Weekends. We have had a plethora of activity to report on!

Last Friday we had a first for the Harrison Lewis Centre. We launched our evening programming called HLC @ Night! This series explores the great outdoors once the sun has set and a whole new and exciting world comes to life! We kicked it off by celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo landing with a two-day stargazing event at Thomas Raddall Provincial Park. John A. Read, an author, astrophysics student, and amateur astronomer, along with astro-photographer David Hoskin and recent astrophysics grad, Kurtis Anstey, led us on a tour of the stars using various telescopes. Our courageous participants braved the bugs to learn about Saturn, Jupiter, different galaxies and constellations, and nebulae. We were graced at the end with a great view of a near full moon, what an event! All photos below were taken by John Read.

On Saturday our Wild Weekend featured the lovely Erica Fraser, who guided us through a Medicinal Herb Walk at the HLC. We learned about all the common herbs and plants that naturally grow on our property and their medicinal properties. Three interesting species we encountered were Yarrow, Queen Anne’s Lace, and Bay Berry. Yarrow, as described in Laurie Lacey’s Mi’Kmaq Medicine (2012) is a plant used to treat various aliments. In a tea form, the leaves can be used to help treat fevers and colds by inducing perspiration. The above-ground elements of Yarrow (stalks, leaves, blossoms, and stems) can be pounded into a pulp, which can be used to sooth external problems; such as bruises, sprains, and swellings (p.95) Queen Anne’s Lace, also know as ‘Wild Carrot’, is commonly found growing in fields and meadows in North America. The roots (as we tasted!) can be eaten raw in their first year of growth like any other root vegetable. The roots and seeds can be steeped and taken in tea form to help the urinary tract.

Yarrow or  Achillea millefolium.  Photo credit: Shauna Doll

Yarrow or Achillea millefolium. Photo credit: Shauna Doll

Another medicinal herb commonly found around HLC property is the Bayberry. Lacey (2012) explains that Bayberry can be used to treat several aliments. The root can be turned into a powder and then either steeped in a tea to help kidney functions, or made into a paste and applied to areas of arthritic or rheumatic pain. The leaves when rubbed between your fingers produce a fresh and herby scent. The leaves and roots crushed together in a tea form is used to treat mouth infections, and cab be used as a mouthwash (p.79). While this knowledge is fun and informative, please do not touch any plants that you are not 100% certain of. Nature is full of look-a-likes and can be dangerous if you are not mindful of your surroundings. If you are pregnant, please check with your healthcare provider before consuming any plants and herbs. Thank you, Erica, for sharing your knowledge with us!

Bayberry or  Myrica

Bayberry or Myrica

From Saturday to Monday we hosted Dr. Sarah Gutowsky’s Birding-By-Ear workshop for the third year running! You may remember her from the Ornithology course that took place earlier this spring through Dalhousie SEASIDE. During this two-day workshop, participants learned the basic audio-skills of types and patterns of bird songs as well as how to recognize and identify various species in Nova Scotia. This workshop was jam packed full of hand’s-on practice as they toured around both the HLC and Thomas Raddall Park. Within 10 hours of hiking in two days, they managed to identify 51 species of birds! That’s more than 5 species and hour! Thank you Dr. Gutowsky for another incredible workshop! We have kept our ears out since then for the birds that like to hang around the area.

Our very own Field Station Manager Shauna Doll hosted the July N2O session with a Guided Chair Yoga and Yoga-Nidra class this past Tuesday. It was a gentle and inclusive practice with a small group of open and supportive women! It was such a lovely way to spend an afternoon, with all participants leaving refreshed and centred. Thank you to all who came out!

This week has also been a very special week because we hosted our first Work Away participant Emily! A vivacious and spirited High-School Teacher from New York, spent a wonderful week with us working around the property. With a wealth of knowledge and a source of unending warmth, she has left her mark with us at the HLC. She’s back off to the US to attend the Newport Music Festival, but we are sure that you’ll see her back around the East Coast soon enough! Thank you, Emily, for joining us here at the HLC, it was an absolute pleasure to have you!

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Make sure to follow our social media Facebook: @HarrisonLewisCoastalDiscoveryCentre, and on Insta: @harrisonlewiscentre for all the details on our upcoming activities this summer!

Written by: Mackenzie Blanchard

Edited by: Shauna Doll

Lacey, L. (2012), Mi’Kmaq Medicines: Remedies and Recollections (2nd ed.), Halifax, NS, Nimbus Publishing Limited.