Exploring AVIS With (and without) Children
* You can always do a shorter hike by turning around sooner!
For maps and directions, see the Andover Trail Guide.
by Chris Vrountas and Cathy Bruton
There is so much to see, hear and experience in Andover's own backyard and everyone is welcome. Spot a bald eagle soaring overhead. Analyze the impressive civil engineering on display in the intricate system of multi-layered beaver dams. Step back eons in time when you see a Great Blue Heron spread its wings and take flight like a lumbering pterodactyl or when you walk along an esker formed by the receding glaciers 10,000 years ago. Wonder at the wild turkeys who make their quirky step through the woods looking as if dressed for a Victorian dinner party in their puffed and shiny coat of feathers. Imagine how Native Americans could have hunted the ghostly white tailed deer in these woods, or how huge a meadow must look to a squirrel when it hears the shriek of a Red-tailed Hawk.
The AVIS reservations can help you see what kind of wilderness the early settlers must have seen when they first arrived in Andover, and they can help you understand how we have changed our world since then and how nature’s memory is much longer than ours.
FINDING YOUR WAY: Animals use memory, scent and sound to find their way through the world. People can also use a compass! Take a compass into the Rafton Reservation, behind High Plain School, and walk the many paths. Use your compass to find the direction of different landmarks you can see along the way – the school, the soccer fields, High Plain Road, the power lines.
WIND AND CLOUDS: We can predict the weather by watching the direction of the wind and by looking for different types of clouds. Visit West Parish Meadow, and watch the clouds moving across the open sky overhead. Watch for signs of wind direction and strength by observing flags flying from flagpoles, the wind blowing across the open meadow, the wind in the trees. Blow a dandelion, or some bubbles and see the wind strength and direction. Remember: When the wind's in the west, the weather's at its best!
Near the West Parish Meadow is Baker’s Meadow. How did people change this environment? Can you find the concrete dam built years ago to create the watery environment that exists there now? How does this dam compare to the beaver dams?
SOUND SYMPHONY: Animals use sound to find prey, to protect themselves, to mate and to care for their young. Visit the Goldsmith Woodlands and use your ears to hear the songs of many different kinds of birds and the rustling leaves of many kinds of trees. Can you hear the frogs croaking in the mud? Why do you think they are croaking? Walk out onto one of the points of land and try to find a grove of aspen trees by listening for their shaking leaves. Listen carefully and try to detect the sounds of humansdistant cars and maybe a lawn mower in the distance! What kinds of birds do you see in the marshes? Are they the same as those in the meadows?
Explore the various paths, like Zacks Way and Journey's End. Can you find the ruins of Zack's old house? Can you find Zack's old outdoor oven? What do you think your house will look like in 100 years?
EROSION: Erosion shapes our world! Visit Deer Jump Reservation to see how glaciers moved the earth long ago, and look for signs of erosion happening today. One agent of erosion is the powerful Merrimack River pulling at the shoreline; another is the mountain bike riders scraping the woodland paths as they pass by. Which force do you think has made the most impact on the land here, nature or people? Why?
Every season is a perfect time to explore nature's memory, sights, sounds and stories. Take your time, and your friends and family, to any one of the AVIS reservations and see what each of them have to offer.