Thanks comes naturally

Thacher Nature Center holds annual celebration connecting families to natural gifts

Algonkian descendent and historical re-enactor Jennifer Lee will demonstrate bark basket making at the event.

Algonkian descendent and historical re-enactor Jennifer Lee will demonstrate bark basket making at the event.

“We wanted to do an alternative Thanksgiving that was not all about eating turkey and was more about awareness and appreciation,” she said.

One highlight of the event, she said, is Algonkian descendent and historical re-enactor Jennifer Lee demonstrating bark basket making, along with sharing history and ancient stories. Lee also does her presentations around a fire inside a wigwam. People arriving early may participate in setting up the wigwam, too.

“It creates a really cool space that kids love,” Engel said.

Participants will be able to learn from primitive skills teacher Devin Franklin, of Flying Deer Nature Center, how to start a fire with a large bow and drill.

Franklin will also show how acorns are processed to make nutty treats, which Engel said many people probably would not know could be done. You might even pick up a recipe for Thanksgiving dinner.

“Acorn bread is delicious,” she said. “You process the acorns almost into flour and it makes a really nice, nutty bread.”

Environmental educator George Steele continues the hunter and gatherer theme by presenting the many ways native peoples made use of deer for more than just food, such as creating tools, toys and instruments.

Attendees will also be able to taste a variety of state-grown apples and learn about healthy snacks from the Honest Weight Food Co-op.

Craft activities at the event include decorating gourd rattles and painting stone totems. Everyone will also be invited to personalize a “leaf of thankfulness” to hang on the Thanksgiving tree followed by a ceremony of appreciation around a warm fire.

“Usually by the end of the event it is like a little community, and everyone gathers around the fire,” Engel said. “We certainly get a lot of very positive feedback. We have some folks who come every year, and they love it as a day to do simple things that we normally don’t do.”

Thacher Nature Center is located on Thompson’s Lake in the Helderberg Mountains. For information about the event or directions, call 872-0800, or visit www.nysparks.com.

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