Have Twins, Will Travel

Habitat, Mass Audubon

Belmont, Mass – When we first moved to the Boston area, we rented an apartment in the fancy suburb of Belmont. “We live in the poor part of Belmont,” we used to joke about this town where the medium income was nearly $100 grand.

Today, many years later, I discovered that Belmont is even nicer than I had realized. I was aware of the big houses and well-manicured lawns and cutesy town center. I was not aware that in the midst of this upper-class suburbia, Mass Audubon runs a 93-acre wildlife sanctuary known as Habitat, complete with forests, ponds and wetlands.  I took the twins for one of their family programs, Going to the Garden.
004d9b9First we read In the Garden: Who’s Been Here, a sweet story by Lindsay Barrett George. Then we took a mini-tour of the community gardens, smelling, touching and tasting the different herbs, flowers and vegetables growing there. It was mostly pretty standard stuff, including many herbs that we have in our own backyard (and veggies that we would have in our backyard if it were not full of lead). But we did get to feel the fuzzy softness of the sage leaves, taste the petals of the Nasturtium flower (“Yucky!” and spit it out on the ground – isn’t that the appropriate response?) and find tomatoes, eggplants and squash growing on their vines.
All the kids were excited about the huge pumpkin growing in the so-called children’s garden, which prompted Twin S to tell the story of how our next-door neighbor found a green pumpkin growing in her yard (which was spawned from our compost pile). “But it’s going to turn orange in a little while,” he explained earnestly.
0022c8eaAfter the garden tour, we moved the party to the picnic tables for a craft project, which is pretty standard practice for these toddler sessions. Appropriately, we did leaf rubbings. We also used marigold flowers, parsley leaves and other plants to color, which was cool. The twins were not too interested in either of these activities, although they were perfectly content to just sit there and color with crayons. It was only after the fact that Twin S became intrigued by my leaf rubbings (and claimed they were his). He even recognized the rubbing of the sage leaf as “the soft one”, which I thought was a promising sign that he might have been actually paying attention the whole time.
The program was entertaining, informative and cheap. But more importantly, I discovered a beautiful hidden nature sanctuary, just a few miles from our house. We’ll be back.