A few years ago, we visited Keuka Lake State Park on a family outing. The thing that impressed us most about the park was the variety of trees. There are so many different kinds in one place! Often, I find a park has a few dominant types- but here, there is a wide variety. Quite a few of them are nut trees, and when we visited this weekend we enjoyed gathering the many varieties of nuts. Horsechestnuts are our favorite- my kids have even renamed the park “Chestnut Tree Lake”! And apparently we’re not the only ones who love to find the prickly shells and crack them open with rocks, for this is what we found when we arrived (my children are convinced it was a gnome)…
Aren’t they beautiful? Rich mahogany colored nuts. But horsechestnuts- also called “conkers”- are not edible (poisonous actually), so don’t eat them! We collect them and use them for playing nut games (like in Squirrel Nutkin) or math counting games. There is also a cute craft idea for making a conker pull toy in “All Year Round”.
Here are all the types of nuts we found. I am still not sure what kind the two to the right of the acorn are, I need to get to the library and borrow a tree guide. Hmm, I should probably just buy one!
The large green ones are black walnut, with a shelled walnut in front of them. They smell good. The prickly one is the chestnut shell, with its nut beside it.
Love the stripe pattern of the bark on this tree…
Beside the playground, we found another unusual tree with these fruits…
It is a great climbing tree, too. You know it’s a special tree when children forgo playing on this great playground beside it because they’d rather climb the tree!
My husband set up a splendid picnic. He even brought a cloth tablecloth and a Bolga fruit basket filled with fresh veggies from the garden, and made some delicious salsa on the spot! MMM.
We also enjoyed a watermelon, home-grown- the first successful watermelon from our garden!
Meanwhile, the children were still playing amongst the trees… what a big one!
Do you notice the front doorway to the left at the bottom of the trunk? It’s a fairy mansion!
Of course there was swimming in the lake, too! My little one had so much fun “riding the seahorse” as he crawled along the shallows.
We ended the day with a family game of soccer and a view of the sunset over the lake.
It’s so important to take the time to have family adventures, to find natural spots that delight and savor them together, to have traditions. Visiting state parks is becoming a family hobby.
How is your family savoring these last few days of summer vacation?