News and notes from Fredericksburg's entertainment scene
Serenity At Sunset
BY COLLETTE CAPRARA
FOR THE FREE LANCE–STAR
Area families are invited to celebrate the first full day of summer with a Sunset Canoe Float at Motts Run Reservoir, hosted by Fredericksburg’s department of parks and recreation Friday evening. The float will be guided by nature specialist Linda Bailey, whose appreciation for the beauty of nature is evident in her poetic description of the event.
“It’s a beautiful time to go out on the lake. We typically go out about an hour before sunset, and the water becomes very glassy when the wind dies down,” she said. “Everything that happens on the lake is accentuated. You might see a Great Blue Heron taking off, or a kingfisher coming in, looking for fish or the first few bats of the evening flying overhead. That all happens in the twilight just before sunset. It’s a magical time.”
The canoes will travel to different areas of interest around the lake, which Bailey varies from float to float since many of the same families participate in several floats throughout the summer. One consistent feature is the summer sounds that the canoeists will hear. Among the calls of insects are the rapid clicks of the cicadas that are concluding their daytime serenade and the singsong chirps of katydids that are just tuning up for the evening.
Joining them will be a chorus of amphibians, including green frogs, wood frogs, cricket frogs and Fowler’s toads, whose calls Bailey describes, respectively, as “the ga-gunk of a banjo, the quacking of a broken duck, the click of two rocks together and a bleating wailing cry.”
“The Fowler’s toads will be singing en masse,” she adds. “We’ll have a nice little cacophony of sounds from all the insects and frogs.” (Note: Bailey can also do a convincing imitation of each of these calls!)
Among the prospective canoe stops will be a spot with cattails and wetland plants, where participants will learn about the food chain and the nursery effect that the wetlands provides, as well as some of the history of the lake, which opened in the late 1960s.
Bailey may also talk about the sediment that flows from the main feeder creek, Mine Run, after a heavy rainfall. She may also guide participants in measuring lake depth with their paddles, as well as identifying the pungent orders of swamp gasses emerging from plant decay in the marsh area.
Because tomorrow’s float is on the summer solstice, Bailey will also talk about the sun’s journey as its setting traverses the sky from southwest to northwest in the course of the year.
A special treat at the end of the float is a picnic on the water as canoeists enjoy a snack pack prepared for each canoe. As darkness begins to settle, glow sticks on the sides of the canoes help their guides shepherd them back to shore.
“It’s a rare opportunity for families to be out on the lake. You can see a few lights from our boathouse, but we tuck into a few coves where you can’t see any lights at all. All you can see and hear is Mother Nature surrounding you. It’s a very peaceful experience,” said Bailey. “We spend a little time at the end, silently floating and listening. You can just close your eyes or lean back and watch the stars. It’s an experience that people remember for a long time because of its magical serenity.”
In addition to the Sunset Float, Fredericksburg Parks and Recreation will hold a Fire Building Workshop on Saturday for ages 8–14. (Children under 10 must be accompanied by a parent.)
What: Summer Solstice Sunset Canoe Float. For ages 6 and above. (Children must be able to sit quietly for 90 minutes.)
Where: Motts Run Reservoir, 6600 River Road, Fredericksburg
When: Friday, June 22, 7:45–9:15 p.m.
Cost: $10 per person
Info/registration: 540/372-1086; fredericksburg va.gov (parks and recreation)
Fire Building Workshop, Motts Run Nature Center,
Saturday, June 23, 10–11 a.m., ages 8–14, $8
Collette Caprara is a local writer and artist.