Wednesday, April 22, 2020
Celebrating the Giving of Nature and People on the 50th Earthday
From this vernal pool, close by Herrontown Road, arises the stream that flows through Herrontown Woods. It is the cleanest tributary of Harry's Brook, fed by the rainwater of eastern Princeton on its journey to Carnegie Lake. Herrontown Woods is "lucky with the water." Even as we play the role of beasts of burden, hauling stepping stones up to muddy sections of trails deep in the preserve, there's a feeling of wealth as the slopes spawn rivulets that merge and nurture the life all around them.
There is an artistry and generosity too in rocks and wood, each boulder distinctively patterned with moss and lichen, and trees deepening in distinction with age.
There is artistry too in the volunteers who give so freely of their time in this timeless place. So many to thank, from our board members to Kurt who has volunteered from the beginning.
More recently, Victorino has brought his skills and vision to our evolving botanical garden next to the main parking lot. Crafting structures out of wood already onsite, he's constructing a welcoming arch,
and has completed a boardwalk
that kids follow on its whimsically meanderings towards a vernal pool inhabited this time of year by tadpoles.
Andrew has also been applying his artistry, adding trails and crafting borders and benches.
A volunteer who lives nearby, Rachelle, is using a fallen pine tree's massive rootball as a backdrop for a meditation garden.
During recent weekends, volunteers have maintained social distancing while cutting invasive shrubs and pulling the weedy garlic mustard from the grounds of Veblen House. The work feels all the more satisfying in this constrained but more peaceful time.
Herrontown Woods was born, first of the generosity of nature and then of the generosity of Oswald and Elizabeth Veblen, who brought together and then donated Princeton's and Mercer County's first nature preserve back in 1957, thirteen years before the first Earthday. Those are the wellsprings of generosity that we tap into and add to, feed and are fed by, in a very giving place perched high on the ridge.