Fireflies and dragonflies

Thursday June 21, 2012

Sheep Hill

A favorite way to celebrate the arrival of summer is by visiting the Sheep Hill headquarters of the Williamstown Rural Land Foundation at 7:30 p.m. this evening for the much-anticipated annual Firefly Hike.

While waiting for the sun to go down over the bucolic hillside meadows, kids can make hands-on nature crafts to take home as a souvenir of their family excursion into the world of nature.

As night falls, prepare to be dazzled by emerging fireflies seemingly more numerous and sparkling than the stars overhead. This intricate dance of the lightning bugs looking for a partner never fails to thrill as the flashing signals light up the darkness as far as the eye can see.

At the farmhouse, toast marshmallows on sticks over the campfire, then introduce the browned molten sweetness to accommodating chocolate and graham crackers. Children can munch on s'mores while stories spin around the circle, illuminated by the firelight. A donation of $3 per person is suggested, and bad weather cancels the event. Information:, (413) 458-2494.

Berkshire Co-op Market

Celebrate the turn of the seasons on Saturday at the fourth Annual Summer Solstice Bash hosted by the Berkshire Co-op Market in Great Barrington.

From noon to 4 p.m. at Memorial Field, next door to the natural foods emporium, one of the longest days of the year will fill with live entertainment and fun for kids and grownups.

The festivities begin at noon with a concert by Berkshire troubadour David Grover, followed at 1 p.m. by a magic show courtesy of Bowey the Clown. Hands-on arts and crafts for children will include bracelet-making and that nice and messy hippy throwback, tie dyeing.

Kids can create edible sculptures, using fresh fruit and vegetables to make imaginative artworks and whimsical figures fit for munching on later. They can also have their faces painted and then drawn by a caricature artist, before digging into a refreshing scoop of SoCo Creamery ice-cream.

The Marty Jimmons Blue grass Band and the Easy Ridin' Papas will provide plenty of spirited musical entertainment throughout the afternoon. Artisan vendors, nonprofit booths, local farm showcases and food stations will round out the gathering.Admission and all activities are free. Information: www.berk, (413) 528-9697.

Pleasant Valley Sanctuary

While some people travel the world in search of exotic wild life, sometimes the most fascinating creatures can be found right under our noses in our own backyards. On Friday, from 10 a.m. to noon, at the Pleasant Valley Audubon oasis in Lenox, Berkshire Wildlife Sanctuaries director Réné Laubach will lead families on a safari to discover the wonders of the myriad insects that call the Berkshires home.

Look at any patch of woodland, swamp or meadow and you can be sure to find an amazing array of bugs busy fulfilling their essential roles in the environmental ecosystem. Some like butterflies capture the imagination with their fluttering grace and delicate beauty. Others such as night-dwelling moths blend seamlessly into the background thanks to their ingenious and effective camouflage skills.

Gossamer winged damsel flies and their cousins the dragonflies can be found balancing precariously on tall grasses, or performing aerial acrobatics with their elegant double paired wings as they hungrily prey on unsuspecting inferiors. Intrepid Audubon safari hunters will use binoculars and nets to observe and occasionally ensnare select specimens for up-close inspection before returning them safely to their familiar habitats.

The program is recommended for grownups and children aged 8 and up, and costs $7 for adults and $4 for children. Information: www.masaudubon
.org, (413) 637-0320.


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