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Jessica Daly, Belchertown

Winter Solstice At Conte

Jess works for Big Brothers Big Sisters and serves on Kestrel’s Community Engagement Committee.

On a chilly evening in December, we gathered a crew of Big Brothers Big Sisters kids and mentors to experience the Silvio O. Conte Refuge on the winter solstice. The air was frosty as we warmed up with hot cocoa and cookies at the gazebo. Then we headed out quietly into the night for the 1-mile loop around the boardwalk. Flashlights helped Bigs and Littles to find their way to each view point, where they leaned against railings and looked out into the dark for signs of movement. Boots crunched on the icy ground as the moon shone through the dark trees. What a special experience it was to witness the solstice with this brave crew, bundled up against the elements. We knew that in just a few months we’d be back again, but this time on an early spring day, with eyes scanning for turtles and the pools and streams full of life. On that visit, there would be lots of laughing, and delighted shouts at the sight of a bird taking flight or a frog splashing into the water. The Big and Little pairs would be there again, bonding through these experiences in nature. Thank you Kestrel, for making it possible!

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