If you missed the Frog’s Eye Tour with James River Park manager Ralph White, you missed the best tour guide that Richmond has to offer at work in his own playground. White is a whiz with children, and always manages to keep the adults interested as well. The two-hour tour from the park visitor’s center […]
If you missed the Frog’s Eye Tour with James River Park manager Ralph White, you missed the best tour guide that Richmond has to offer at work in his own playground.
White is a whiz with children, and always manages to keep the adults interested as well. The two-hour tour from the park visitor’s center to just west along the calm waters of the south banks of the river was very involved but light – just 15 people, including seven kids. Rich Young, one of Richmond’s best river lovers, joined to help herd the kids and even lent the some engineering skills
White was genuinely thrilled as he taught the kids how to identify a Sycamore tree, using the method of identification “see the bark…does the tree look sick…what if you were losing your skin…you’re more sick…turn it around…sick a more.”
We learned about poison ivy, that the leaves of the plant aren’t the problem, its the oil in the plant that can get on your body that people are allergic to. He also compared the fine-haired brown vines that cling to the trees to the beard on his face — easy to identify. He encouraged children to remember to use the spelling of ivy as a way to remember the leaves – I.V.Y. for three leaves.
Along the tour, we found snails, clams, fish, tadpoles, and beetles among the many creatures one could discover along the shores of the James.
White had the children sifting through sand to find snails; the kids learned about how rocks have been shaped by both man (quarrying) and mother nature (centuries of water rushing over the rocks, giving them their round, smooth shapes); how mussels are commercially manipulated into making pearls; what zebra butterflies like to eat and that the biggest concentration of zebra butterflies is in Richmond area, according to Ralph.
White helped identify wildflowers and native plants, including the water willow, pawpaw trees (which have started to bare fruit, which will be ripe in August); Spice bush (including uses for the leaves in tea to “bring bliss to children”); button bush (including its use as actual buttons years ago).
It was a fantastic time for youth and adults, enjoying a couple of hours in a nature playground — using what Mother Nature offers. He invited everyone to come back on their own and explore, to continue to discover and learn in the classroom that is the James River Park.
For more photos, see the James River News Hub flickr page.