Blackstone Parks Conservancy

It was a snow-covered, yet warm December morning.  Mallard ducks gathered en masse, waiting for the human tender who fed them.  The soft rustle of leaves revealed a mourning dove searching for seeds. People will gloves and cameras searched the woods and water for birds.

At the monthly Art in the Park, we had a station to make a cardinal collage and simple bird feeder. While the adults and I traded bird stories and discussed the impacts of climate change on bird migration, a family with a young boy approached. He was eager to do the craft, and excitedly cut out a bird bath and red “raindrop” shape to start his cardinal. He added his details with oil pastels and said it was the best art he ever made!  The family made two tube seed feeders and decided to explore the trails to see what birds they might find. I don’t know what they saw, but that one mourning dove I had sighted had multiplied into 14, roosting in a tree across the street. I heard another bird sing. I went to find it and discovered a tiny sparrow. I was about to leave, but something made me look up. There, on a low branch, sat a red tailed hawk, shifting her feet into her feathers to warm them while calmly surveying the site. We watched each other for a while. I did not have a camera. I can’t wait to return!

Autumn in Providence

Like a showgirl reluctant to leave the stage, autumn in Providence must be noticed: apricot, scarlet, deep purple and yellow to golden to orange to bronze, some edged with green. We can hold on to the memory of the astonishing trees in our parks, yards, and streets through the long winter nights.

November was the last best opportunity for Blackstone Parks Conservancy (BPC) volunteers to work outside in 2019, and to begin toting up all projects this year and see what they had come to.

Some projects were more visible than others. The six trees planted in Blackstone Field on River Road, for example, resulted from considerable planning to accommodate the different needs of both the BPC Education Committee for their events and the Narragansett Boat Club for their regattas. The red maples and the hackberry are thriving, but two of those trees, Prairie Fire crabapples, bear watching next spring given signs of stress.

The Education Committee led by Rick Richards is seeing if an extra river ride could be combined with a winter duck walk, both popular events. This small committee perfected the art of doing a lot with few volunteers but could accomplish more with more help.

Carrie Drake’s Park Committee held one last Park-Keeping session before the onset of mud season. Following on the heels of volunteer trail work in October, Moses Brown freshmen spread wood chips to keep the heavily used trails from compacting too much and allowing runoff. Visitors now enjoy the ease and safety brought to the York Pond steps by a new railing.

With encouragement by neighbors and the BPC, the northernmost section of Blackstone Park Conservation District, on Loring Avenue, received a long awaited pruning in October. City Forester Doug Still reports that pruning city trees with a newly organized team of climbers will continue into April, including much needed attention to the Boulevard.

On the Boulevard – Heartened by the public reaction to the new path section, the BPC board now turns to figuring out how to fund more of the worst segments. Deming Sherman reported that eight trees funded by BPC donors had been successfully planted by Groundwork Providence.

Thank you to all who are responding generously to our fall appeal. We depend on you.

Jane Peterson