Kids Almanac: Mother’s Day, birds, blossoms, boxing & baklava

Happy Mother’s Day by JD Hancock.

In his work Birds and Poets, John Burroughs describes the contrast between the course of change that we experience through the passing of loved ones and friends, moving in and out of houses et cetera and the always-familiar birdsongs that have remained the same throughout our lives. He submits, “People who have not made friends with the birds do not know how much they miss. Especially to one living in the country, of strong local attachments and an observing turn of mind, does an acquaintance with the birds form a close and invaluable tie.”

One popular event for local birders is the “Ulster County Spring Census: Big Day Count” on May 12. Using a birding checklist, such as the American Birding Association (ABA)’s at, just make a note of the birds that you see in Ulster County according to the ABA Big Day Count rules, and report it. Or you could use the checklist just for fun with your own family. Another idea is to make a pledge per species of bird that you spot that day, and donate it to an environmental organization in Ulster County. For more information about the Big Day Count or good birding locations, visit


Red Hook hosts Apple Blossom Festival this Saturday


I hear a lot about apple festivals in the fall, but the Red Hook Apple Blossom Festival gives us a chance to celebrate this magnificent fruit in the spring. These beautiful blooms are a sign of the season in the Hudson Valley, but I didn’t realize how critical this blooming phase is to apple production until talking with Mike Fargione at the Cornell Cooperative Extension. Fargione explained that trees in bloom can withstand temperatures down to 29 degrees. Go down one degree, and five to ten percent of blossoms are lost. Drop just a few more notches down to 25 degrees, and 90 percent of the blossoms will die – which would mean a lot fewer apples this fall.

Our recent weather patterns have had me alternating daily between short sleeves and sweaters, but I never knew how these variations wrought such havoc on our orchards. So honor this tender tidbit of spring, and come on out to the Red Hook Apple Blossom Festival. In addition to performances by the String Masters country band and Solas An Lae dance company, the kids will love the bounce house, face-painting, food and more. The Festival is free and takes place in the center of Red Hook on Saturday, May 12 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, call (845) 750-2254 or visit



Box Turtle Walk in Gardiner this Saturday


Do you know how box turtles got their name? They have a hinge on the front that closes their shell almost completely, like a box, protecting them from predators. Do you and your family want to learn more and see some for yourselves? The Wallkill Valley Land Trust invites volunteers to its “Monitoring Eastern Box Turtle Walk and Talk” on Saturday, May 12 at 10 a.m. in Gardiner. This popular and free event includes a brief overview of how to identify and track box turtles. Finally, use what you learned to go out and find them!

Registration for this event is required. For more information or to register, call (845) 255-2761 or visit To learn more about the project, visit



Free Origami Foldfest this Saturday at Kingston Library


Up until now, the only origami that I’ve done was folding written paper notes in high school. It’s probably time to expand my repertoire. Kingston Library’s “Origami Spring Foldfest: Flowers,” taught by Ulster Publishing’s own Anita Barbour, is intended to introduce beginners to the art, as well as to challenge experienced paper-folders.

The Foldfest is free and takes place on Saturday, May 12 from 10:30 a.m. to 12 noon. This event is suitable for ages 5 to adult. Kingston Library is located at 55 Franklin Street in Kingston. For more information, call (845) 331-0507 or visit



Hyde Park Free Library hosts Greek Children’s Day this Saturday


When I was growing up, my parents used to take my brother and me to the International Festival held in our community each year. That’s where I discovered, and quickly fell in love with, Greek food. Thankfully, I can get my fix easily at Yanni’s restaurant in New Paltz. I would love to share more of Greek culture with my children than my takeout orders and wowing them with my recitation of the Greek alphabet. But with airfares being what they are, my family and I won’t be traveling to Greece any time soon.

Fortunately, the Greek Children’s Day program at the Hyde Park Free Library Annex is a terrific way to introduce children to Greek culture and heritage through food, music, dance, story and more. This free interactive event takes place on Saturday, May 12 from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. The Hyde Park Free Library Annex is located at 2 Main Street in Hyde Park. For more information, call (845) 454-3222 or visit



Cappella Festiva in concert this Saturday in Poughkeepsie


Singing in a choir can be a powerful experience for youth and adults alike. There’s a familiarity and a connectedness that come from spending time standing next to each other and blending our voices together. There’s a maturity that develops as the needs of the individual are understood in the bigger context of the needs of the group, building teamwork. Plus, it’s just fun to sing with other vocalists.

I love choral music and was delighted discover the Cappella Festiva Treble Choir, comprised of area youth. Its concert takes place on Saturday, May 12 at 7:30 p.m. at Christ Episcopal Church in Poughkeepsie under the direction of Susan Bialek, with works by Galuppi and Chilcott. Bring your kids: It’s a terrific opportunity for children to hear other young people perform choral music outside of a school setting. Choir membership is open by audition to area girls and boys with treble (unchanged) voices, ages ten to 17.

Admission to this concert is a pay-what-you-can free-will donation to support the Treble Choir Scholarship Fund. Christ Episcopal Church is located at 20 Carroll Street in Poughkeepsie. For more information, call (845) 853-7765 or visit


Young boxers enter the ring at Kingston PAL’s Fight Night this Saturday


Fun, camaraderie, responsibility, physical fitness, self-defense and confidence are all words that the Kingston Police Athletic League (PAL)’s Allen Nace describes as some of the many benefits of youth boxing. Since 2006, when WBC [World Boxing Council] champion Billy Costello and Kingston police officer Aaron Fitzgerald founded the boxing gym, kids as young as age 10 have learned how to stand, move and jab. They also learn how to develop a positive lifestyle and work ethic, as modeled and mentored by the adults who box here.

I asked Nace about any safety concerns of youth boxing. He says, “There’s boxing, and there’s boxing…At this level, they’re not called fighters, they’re boxers.” He explains that the majority of PAL’s boxers never box competitively. For those who do, the emphasis is on technique, and safety is of paramount importance. During the bout, the referees err on the side of safety; the bout is ended if there is any issue with safety; and there are three ring doctors, should they be needed.

Come see the action for yourself at Fight Night on Saturday, May 12. The doors open at 6 p.m. and bouts begin at 7 p.m. The evening features male and female boxers, clubs from the Hudson Valley and around New York State and special guests former world champion contender Renaldo Snipes and three-time world champion Iran Barkley. Fight Night takes place at the Midtown Center’s Billy Costello Gymnasium, located at 467 Broadway in Kingston. Tickets cost $25 ringside, $15 general admission and $10 for students. For more information or to make a donation to the program, call (845) 594-3231 or visit



Forsyth Nature Center leads “Time Travel” tour of Kingston Point this Tuesday


From now through September, the Forsyth Nature Center (FNC) is offering a free weekly program for families on Tuesday afternoons at 3:30 p.m. called “A Naturalist’s Passport.” FNC’s Steve Noble explains, “The programs are designed for families to learn about the natural world together while unplugging from the TV, computer and gaming devices. Participants receive a unique Nature Center passport that allows youth to get a nature stamp for every program they attend. Once they have attended at least six, a certificate and free gift will be distributed.” The program is made possible through the support of the Creating Healthy Places to Live, Work and Play and the Ulster County Youth Bureau.

This week, FNC is doing a “Time Travel” tour of Kingston Point, and I highly recommend it. My family did a version of this tour a few years ago. I loved discovering the beach access to the Hudson River, and my kids enjoyed the nearby playground. Across the way are some iron gates into Kingston Point Park: a portal for connecting with the past. The history we learned on the tour provided a context for what our eyes were taking in, from vestiges of buildings to signs of animal life, and it helped me understand how much used to happen here.

The “Time Travel” tour will be held on Tuesday, May 15 at 3:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. Kingston Point Park is located at 51 Delaware Avenue in Kingston. For more information, call (845) 481-7339 or visit



Woodstock Chimes holds warehouse sale this weekend in Shokan


If you haven’t been to a Woodstock Chimes warehouse sale, then you might want to give it a try. If you have been before, you know what I’m talking about. Held twice a year at the company in Shokan, the sale offers great products at deeply discounted prices, and they’re more than just chimes. Over the years, our family has amassed an entire collection of handheld percussion instruments from this sale, such as tambourines, triangles and rhythm eggs. We also have some recorders and drums. I bought a child-sized guitar – as well as full-sized one for myself, which I am determined to learn how to play someday.

The chimes are so affordable, and they make fantastic gifts. The warehouse sale runs from Thursday, May 17 through Sunday, May 20 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Woodstock Chimes is located at 167 DuBois Road in Shokan. For more information, call (845) 657-6000 or visit



Zach Wahls reads this Saturday in High Falls


Celebrate Mothers’ Day weekend with Zach Wahls and Bruce Littlefield, authors of My Two Moms. The son of same-sex couple Terry Wahls and Jackie Reger, Zach Wahls became known for his impassioned defense of marriage equality before the Iowa House of Representatives: “Because the sexual orientation of my parents has had zero impact on the content of my character.”

In his book, Zach, an Eagle Scout, illustrates each component of the Boy Scout Law with examples from his own family life. Wahls and Littlefield will be reading from their book on Saturday, May 12 at 2 p.m. at Spruce Design & Decor. This event is free and open to the public. Twenty percent of all sales during this event will benefit the Hudson Valley LGBTQ Community Center. Spruce is located at 1209 Route 213 in High Falls. For more information, call (845) 687-4481 or visit To learn more about the book, visit



Sunday is “Plant a Tree with Your Mother Day” in Beacon


Sometimes I feel like the emphasis on gifts for Mothers’ Day can distract from the together time that some Moms might be longing for with their children. One idea for spending time together on Mothers’ Day that also honors and preserves Mother Earth is Scenic Hudson’s “Plant a Tree with Your Mother Day.” You, your mother and your children can spend the morning planting native trees and shrubs along the Fishkill Creek. You pick the sites, dig the holes and plant the trees.

Wear clothes you won’t mind getting dirty, including long pants, sturdy closed-toe shoes and a hat. Also bring gloves if you have them, sunscreen, water, a lunch and bug spray (remember to do a tick check afterwards, too). Participants under age 18 must be accompanied by an adult. “Plant a Tree” takes place on Sunday, May 13 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Madam Brett Park. This event is free and open to the public. The park is located on Tioronda Avenue in Beacon. For more information or to register, call (845) 473-4440, extension 273, or visit



“Guided Hike for Moms” at Hudson Highlands Nature Museum in Cornwall this Sunday


One of the best gifts that I give to myself as a mother is getting outside – just being in nature. The change in energy feels restorative, my head feels clearer after a walk and I just feel more grounded. This Sunday, May 13 at 10 a.m., bring your kids (or not) on a “Guided Hike for Moms” at the Hudson Highlands Nature Museum’s Outdoor Discovery Center (ODC). Admission is $7 for adults and $5 for children 3 to 12. Museum members pay two dollars less. The ODC is located on Muser Drive, across from 174 Angola Road in Cornwall. For more information or to register, call (845) 534-5506, extension 204, or visit



Moms ride free this Sunday at Kingston’s Trolley Museum


Here’s a Mothers’ Day activity that appeals across the generations: a trolley ride. I think that this is a total win: fun for the kids, interesting for you and nostalgic for your elders. Download a copy of Judy Garland’s “Trolley Song” from Meet Me in St. Louis (“Clang, clang, clang” went the trolley/”Ding, ding, ding” went the bell…) and do a singalong on your way over to the Trolley Museum of New York.

Trolley rides are running this Sunday, May 13 between noon and 5 p.m., and mothers ride free in honor of their special day. The Trolley Museum is located at 89 East Strand in Kingston. Regular admission is $6 for adults and $4 for children and seniors. Kids under age 5 get in free. For more information, call (845) 331-3399 or visit



Clermont in Germantown hosts Mothers’ Day Tea this Sunday


Perhaps your family’s idea of the perfect Mothers’ Day leans toward quiet and elegant. Then you might want to attend the Clermont State Historic Site’s Mothers’ Day Tea on Sunday, May 13 at 1 p.m. A special Mothers’ Day Tour will tell the story of the last family member to live at Clermont, Alice Livingston. Participants will enjoy a leisurely walk through some of the historic gardens, including the heirloom peony garden, which is expected to be in bloom for the event. Light fare will be served, including Clermont’s own blend of Harney & Sons tea, dainty sandwiches, fresh fruit and sweets.

Clermont is located at 400 Wood Road in Germantown. Tickets cost $12 per person; children under age 5 get in free. For more information or for reservations, call (518) 537-4240 or visit



Try silk painting and needle felting this Sunday at Olana in Hudson


For the more tactile or artistically inclined Mamas, Olana has a Mothers’ Day event for you. On Sunday, May 13 from 1 to 3 p.m., families will color a silk scarf and do needle felting. I feel like I was born to write this, because just last week, I did silk painting and needle felting – both for the first time! (Thank you, Natalie and Jenny!)

Silk is extraordinary to work with. It just draws in the color that you apply. It feels collaborative somehow, the way the texture and fabric absorb the dye. I found it mesmerizing. Now that I have also entered the world of needle felting, I can tell you that it is the single most satisfying craft that I have ever done. It felt completely therapeutic to poke fluffy wool with a needle into the shape that I wanted it to take. There is also an option to make wool bracelets on a loom.

The craft activities take place at the Wagon House Education Center, and all ages are welcome. Registration is required by noon on Friday, May 11. The cost is $15 per person, $5 per class for each additional family member; parking is $5 (free for Olana Partnership members or Empire State Pass holders). Olana is located at 5720 Route 9G in Hudson. For more information or to register, call (518) 828-1872, extension 109, or visit



Honor’s Haven in Ellenville marks Mothers’ Day with Tulip Festival this Sunday


Honor’s Haven seems to have a little something for everyone at its second annual Tulip Festival & Mothers’ Day Celebration on Sunday, May 13. Activities include a luncheon buffet, local bands, yoga, tai chi and aura readings, a dance performance and an illusionist show by David Garrity. The place has tulips in abundance, and you are invited to submit onsite photos for the Tulip Festival Contest.

The cost for the luncheon is $25 for adults and $13 for children aged 12 and under. Reservations are required. Honor’s Haven is located at 1195 Arrowhead Road in Ellenville. For more information or reservations, call (845) 210-1600, extension 5672, or visit




In honor of Mothers’ Day, Erica Chase-Salerno dedicates this week’s column to her awesome, wonderful Mom, Mary Chase. Special hugs to her amazing mother-in-law, Olga Salerno. And deep appreciation of the sacred connection with her loving grandmothers, Margaret Chase and Mary Chandler. Erica can be reached at [email protected]



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