Kids’ Almanac (May 8-15)

(Photo by Dion Ogust)

“How do you know when something is a calling?”
“When you can’t help but go there.”
– Maria Shriver interviewing poet Mary Oliver


After this year’s long winter, followed by a stubbornly chilly pattern of temperatures, families may earnestly be looking for an event that captures a robust feeling of spring, beyond nature’s slowly emerging gifts of the yellow forsythia blooms or the peepers’ persistent calls. Van Cortlandt Manor’s Lightscapes is a massive walk-through evening exhibit of springtime motifs glowing with light, creatively crafted from recycled and reclaimed materials.

Our entry line was long, but kept moving, and it consisted almost entirely of families with children. As we walked through the exhibit, we heard kids of all ages determining the components of the art pieces, such as milk jugs and clear plastic party cups, while marveling at the quirky mushrooms, counting colorful ladybugs, delighting in a stroll through the caterpillar tunnel and imitating the insect-buzzing sounds emitting from the speakers. The sheer scale of Lightscapes is part of the overall effect of immersing the viewer in an offbeat world of springtime-imagination-meets-Earth-Day.

The hospitality tent includes locally made sweet and savory refreshments for sale, and a gift shop loaded with a variety of springtime merchandise for children and adults. Tickets for Lightscapes cost $16 for adults, $12 for children ages 3 through 17, and admission is free for members and children under 3 years. Tickets purchased on-site cost $2 more per ticket. It’s advised to purchase tickets in advance to guarantee admission. Buying tickets to events such as Lightscapes helps to support the historic preservation of Van Cortlandt Manor for years to come.

Van Cortlandt Manor is located on South Riverside Avenue in Croton-on-Hudson. For more information, call (914) 631-8200 or visit



Planet-gazing from the Walkway

My favorite astronomer and fellow Almanac columnist Bob Berman leads a talk on the Walkway over the Hudson this Saturday, May 10 at 8:15 p.m., with telescopes available for attendees to use for seeing this special appearance of all of the planets except Venus. The cloud date is Sunday, May 11. Admission costs $5 and is free for Walkway members. Tickets may be purchased online at; at the Bardavon Opera House, located at 35 Market Street in Poughkeepsie; or at the gate on the night of the event. Walkway entrances are located at 87 Haviland Road in Highland and at 61 Parker Avenue in Poughkeepsie. For more information, visit


Burroughs Society Bird-athon counts species throughout the county

This Saturday, May 10 is the John Burroughs Natural History Society (JBNHS) Bird-athon. JBNHS members scour Ulster County for as many bird species as possible, and donors are invited to pledge a dime, quarter or even a dollar per species. A team that spends all day in the field can expect to observe 100 species (which is why this activity is sometimes called a Century Run). I heard that some of them get up at 2 a.m. Did you know that birds migrate at night?

Funds are being raised for enhancements at Shawangunk Grasslands National Wildlife Refuge in Galeville, such as benches and an informational kiosk: a wonderful project promoting the only National Wildlife Refuge in the Hudson Valley, and a great way for local families to support this larger effort. For more information or to make a donation, contact Mark DeDea at or (845) 339-1277. To learn more about the organization, visit


Bike Swap in New Paltz

The New Paltz Bike Swap is a chance to clean out, make some money or get a good deal on a bike. The Swap takes place on Saturday, May 10 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the New Paltz Middle School, located at 2 South Manheim Boulevard in New Paltz. Admission is free. Seller check-in begins at 9 a.m.; buyers may shop from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information, call (917) 655-5123 or visit




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