Monday, December 20, 2010

The DC Women's Hiking Group will hike at Lake Windwing on Tues. and Thurs., Dec. 21st and 23rd.
Lake Windwing is located on South Shore Drive across from Ridgebury Elementary School.
Take Bennetts Farm Rd. to South Shore Dr.
The entrance and parking will be on the left.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Winter Solstice Total Lunar Eclipse

Not since 1638 has a total lunar eclipse coincided with the Winter Solstice. Tuesday Dec. 21 is our shortest day of the year – the beginning of winter. Between Monday night and Tuesday morning the earth’s shadow will totally engulf the Moon from 2:41AM to 3:53AM EST. Unlike a solar eclipse, it is safe to view a lunar eclipse with the naked eye or binoculars, both work well. All it takes is a good alarm clock and a clear sky. For the 72 minutes of totality, you will notice a second deeper night. Stars that were hidden by moonshine will appear. The moon may take on a reddish glow. This is the result of the reflection onto the moon from the ring of Earth’s sunrises and sunset. The Earth’s atmospheric conditions really are the key to the eclipse’s color. Only on rare occasions will the Moon go black. The next total lunar eclipse to appear in our area is not until April 14-15 2014. If you want more information about this event, go to Sky and Telescope’s website at Picture credit Science NASA News.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

No hike Tues., Dec. 14th due to Ridgefield school 2 hr. delay.

Monday, December 13, 2010

The DC Women's Hiking Group will hike at Seth Low Pierrepont State Park on Dec. 14th and 16th at 9:30am.
Entrance to park and parking is off Barlow Mountain Rd.
Near Scotland and Barlow Mountain Elementary Schools.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The DC Women's Hiking Group will hike Tues. and Thurs., Dec. 7th and 9th at Limekiln Natural Area in Redding, CT.
Directions: From Rt. 7 take Great Pond Rd. (Martin Park) which turns into Picketts Ridge Rd.. Follow to the end.
At end turn left and follow Rd. around curve then bear left to go through Redding.
Go straight through Redding by the railroad station to Side Cut Rd.
At the end of Side Cut Rd. turn left onto Rt. 53.
Make first right onto Limekiln Rd.
Turn left onto John Todd Way and park at end of Rd.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Gingerbread - A short history

Our Gingerbread House Workshop carries on a long European tradition. In 992 the Armenian monk Gregory of Nicopolis started teaching French priests the art of baking with the exotic spice ginger. At first it was used for easing indigestion and religious ceremonies. As the spice became more available, it was discovered ginger had a preservative quality for pastries and cakes. An early European recipe created a paste which was pressed into carved wooden molds. Originally these were like story boards which told through pictures the news of the day. Or they may have reflected the likeness of the ruling royals or been religious symbols (like the one above). Then the finished hard “cookie” might have been iced to bring out the details in the relief. In the 1500s, the English altered the recipe and created a lighter product. Crumbled, it was added to meat to cover up the decaying smell. Queen Elizabeth I is credited with creating the first gingerbread man when she presented some visiting dignitaries with gingerbread biscuits in their likeness.
Gingerbread soon became a popular treat at fairs where "biscuits" were sold in all shapes and sizes.

In the 1600s Germany became famous for its softer & puffier Lebkuchen gingerbread. Nuremburg produced such a high quality product that it was used as currency for paying taxes. The Brothers Grimm fairy tale, Hansel & Gretel, inspired the Germans to take large slabs of lebkuchen decorated with sweets and create hexenhaeusle, “witch’s house” or Knusperhaeuschen, “houses for nibbling at”. These houses were often built over the Christmas holidays and eaten at New Year. Immigrantes brought gingerbread and its building tradition to America. Today, the USA has the largest variety of gingerbread recipes in the world. And the Gingerbread house continues on being a Christmas tradition. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The DC Women's Hiking Group will hike at Saugatuck Falls in Redding, CT on Tues., Nov. 30th and Thurs., Dec. 2nd at 9:30am.
Directions: Take Rt. 7 to Topstone Rd. to the end.
Turn Right onto Umpawaug.
Turn Left onto Diamond Hill.
Follow Diamond Hill and access road will be on the left side between mailbox # 65 and 73.
Parking will be down road by entrance for Saugatuck Falls trail.

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Eyes in Draco

This Hubble image displays a pair of sprial galaxies with swirling arms. The binary glalactic system is located in the constellation of Draco, the Dragon, about 350 million light-years away. Although not found in the "head" area of Draco, these appear as eyes looking back on our own galaxy. Astronomers study glaxy pairs like this to determine the geometry of the universe, which sheds light on dark energy - which isn't just a SyFi term anymore.

Credit: NASA, ESA, the Hubble Heritage (STScl/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration, and A. Evans (University of VA, Charlottesville/NRAO/Stony Brook University).

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Blue Moon and the Number 13

"Once in a Blue Moon" refers to occasional happenings. A recent posting by revealed a little history behind the saying. Now, a blue moon is the second full moon in a month. In years past, especially before the calendar was standardized, it had another meaning. During a calendar year, usually there are 12 full moons which means 3 full moons in each of the 4 seasons. Occasionally, a calendar year will have 13 full moons. This means one season has an extra full moon. To keep track of time, the moons within a season were referred to a early, mid and late. A 4th moon appearing in a season created a problem. So the 3rd moon in that season was called a blue moon. This allowed the 4th and final moon to still be called the late moon. This extra full moon created additional problems. Monks who kept track of the calendar found this upset the regular arrangement of church festivals. The extra moon was difficult to predict and consequentially its occurrence disrupted a lot of well laid plans. This is one of the reasons the number 13 is considered unlucky. It was an unlucky monk who had to sort out the remaining festivals and rearrange the church schedule. This year, autumn has 4 full moons. Nov. 21st full moon will be the 3rd. Thus it is a Blue Moon by old standards. So enjoy its light and be thankful for a standardized calendar. (Photo by
The DC Women's Hiking Group will hike at Weir Farm this Tues. the 23rd.
We will meet in the parking lot of Ancona's off Branchville Rd. (Rt. 102) at 9:25am. and then carpool to Weir Farm.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Nov. 17 - Leonid Meteor Shower

November means a return of the Leonid Meteor Shower. The shower is caused by material left behind by the relatively small Comet Tempel-Tuttle as it passed the Earth’s orbit during its regular trip through our solar system. When the Earth passes through this debris, the gas and dust flares up in the atmosphere creating meteors. The comet cycles pass us every 33 – 34 years. In years that it is close-by, the displays are spectacular. In 1833 the shower was a storm with the night sky lighting up so brightly that it woke up the most of the people in the eastern USA and promoted research into meteors. In 1966 observers calculated sightings at 144,000 per hour or one every 40 seconds. Perhaps sometime around 2031 this will happen again. But this year’s display will not be close to this rate as the debris trail is not as dense.

Because the meteors come at us from the direction of the constellation Leo, the Lion, they are called Leonid. November 17 & 18th are the best nights to observe. The best times is between moonset (2:39AM) and sunrise. Find an area where there is very little ground light and has a good view of the southeastern sky. Stay warm and get comfortable. Using a lawn chair to recline in saves wear and tear on one’s neck. Lie back and relax as nature puts on its light show. Don’t worry; the world is not coming to an end as some thought in 1833.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The DC Women's Hiking Group will hike on Tues., Nov. 16th and Thurs., Nov. 18th at Rock Lot & Scott Preserve in Redding, CT at 9:30am.
Directions: Coming from the north on Route 7 turn left onto Old Redding Rd. (Right before Walpole)
Right after going under RR bear right onto Mountain Rd. Follow Mountain Rd. to end and turn left onto Peaceable St. Parking for the open space will be on the left. If you come to an electrical substation, you went too far.
There is limited parking, so if possible, please carpool.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Quarry Head State Park

This week the Women’s Hiking group will explore Quarry Head State Park in neighboring Wilton. The park has a wide variety of habitats, offers magnificent views to the south and was once an important part of Wilton history. It was the site of Wilton’s most notable quarry. Starting in the 1700’s granite gneiss of the Ordovician age (490 – 443 million years old) was quarried here. The rock was used in house foundations and steps. Wilton’s Town Hall and the Ridgefield Congregational Church steps were quarried here. It was also used to make millstones like the one in the picture. Local grist mills used them to grind rye and corn.

The quarry operations ended at the turn of the 20th century. But many discarded blocks scattered about the park preserved the workmen’s tool marks. Look for drill holes and chisel marks in the rocks and ledges along the trails. After the quarry closed the area became a residence which is still evident by the preserved foundation and fireplace adjacent to the parking area. The Degener family acquired the property in the late 1920’s and lived here until 1988. With the help of the State of Connecticut Natural Recreation and Heritage Trust Program, Wilton acquired the 33 acres from the Degener family for open space. Although it is owned by the State of Connecticut, it still remains under the town’s jurisdiction. Enjoy your hike!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The DC Women's Hiking Group will be meeting on Tues. the 9th at Quarry Head in Wilton, CT at 9:30am. No hike on Thurs. (No school).
Directions to Quarry Head:
Take Rt. 35 through downtown Ridgefield to Rt. 33.
Follow Rt. 33 into Wilton.
There will be a brown State of Ct. sign for Quarry Head on the left side of the Rd. In between mailbox #'s 760 and 764.
Turn left and follow Rd. up to parking area up hill on right.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The DC Women's Hiking Group will hike at Pine Mountain on Nov. 2nd and Nov. 4th at 9:30am.
Take Pine Mountain Rd. to end and parking is on the right side of the road.

Monday, October 25, 2010

If anyone is missing a brown glove from the Ghosts program on Sat. night, please call us at 203-438-1063 or e-mail.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The DC Women's Hiking Group will hike at Tarrywile Park in Danbury, CT on Oct. 26th and 28th.
Directions to Tarrywile Park:
Take 84 to Danbury Airport exit at end of ramp light turn right onto Wooster Heights follow to stop sign and make sharp right turn onto Southern Blvd.
Follow road and will see signs to Tarrywile turning right and parking lot will be on the right across street from Immaculate H.S. We will meet in the lower parking lot at 9:30am.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Ghosts of the Full Moon

Beware! On Saturday night October 23 ghostly apparitions will once again appear in Ridgefield’s Hemlock Hills. As Samhain or Halloween approaches, the veil between the living and Other-world thins, allowing restless spirits to emerge into the land of the living. Who will appear is up to the wind and the will of the spirits. Some of those restless souls who have traveled across and walked among the living have been Sarah Bishop, heritress ever fearful of fire, little Hezekiah Scott forever looking for his lost cow, and the Leather Man still walking his endless route. Maybe this year a few new spirits may transcend the veil to join those that have walked before. Whoever does emerge will have a story to tell. For those brave morals who wish to listen, sign up now – if you dare. But be prepared for a nighttime walk among the phantoms of Ridgefield’s past in the deep dark woods of Hemlock Hills during the October’s Full Moon.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The DC Women's Hiking Group will hike at Lake Windwing on Oct. 19th and the 21st.
Lake Windwing is located across from Ridgebury Elementary School on Bennetts Farm Rd. take South Shore Dr. and turn left into the park area.
Meet at 9:30am.

Monday, October 11, 2010

DC Women's Hiking Group

No hike on Tues., Oct. 13th. (No School)
On Thurs., Oct. 15th the DC Women's hiking group will hike at Brewster Farm/Jones Trail.
Parking is on Lounsbury Lane which is off of Florida Hill Rd.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Black Bears in Ridgefield?

Yes but not to worry. Over the past week there have been a couple of black bear sightings in Ridgefield. With Connecticut’s landscape converting back to forest, it has become more and more black bear friendly. Black bears are intelligent animals and very adaptable. Their preferred habitat is deciduous forests with abundance of fruits and nuts. An opportunist omnivore, their diet varies with the seasons and ranges from early spring shoots, carrion and fawns to insects, berries, nuts and roots. This time of year they are bulking up for their winter nap. Seeds from our birdfeeders are a great source of fat and protein and supplement the regular nuts and seeds that are found in the wild. They have a keen sense of smell and can detect food at a great distance. So, odors from grills, outside pet food, birdfeeders, and garbage are like a fast food beacon to them.

This is the time of year that the yearlings are looking to establish new territories where they can claim a den site. Some will travel great distances. Depending on the gender and terrain, a CT black bear’s home range can vary from 5 - 60 square miles. Although ranges can overlap, with the population increasing, the bears are becoming more visible.

Black Bears are not as aggressive as their western grizzly cousins. Except for a mother and cubs, they prefer to forage alone at night. They have keen hearing and normally leave the area once it senses human presence. If you see a bear, enjoy it but from a distance. The CT DEP website contains lots of dos and don’ts about bears, a fact sheet, sighting numbers and even how to report a bear sighting. Just type in “CT DEP bears” into any search engine for the latest information. And now it is time for this blogger to go out and buy another birdfeeder. (Photo courtesy of Memphis zoo)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Why Fall Foliage?

The days are growing shorter and New England comes alive with color. Why such great color here? The answer lies in our mixed deciduous hardwood forests and our climate. First - Why Color? Leaves are the food factory of a plant. During the summer the leaf's green chlorophylls are working hard to produce food for the plant's survival. They are so abundant, they mask out the other pigments in the leaf. But chlorophylls are very unstable and they must be constantly replaced. As the sunlight diminishes, they are replaced at a slower and slower pace. Eventually the other pigments called caroteniods start to become unmasked. These appear yellow or orange or many hues in-between. The birch or beech trees have an abundance of these.

As time progresses less water and nutrients can enter or exit the leaf. This causes a backlog of chemicals. In some plants, these trapped chemicals, plus light causes anthocyanins to form. These create the reds and purples. The brighter the light during this period, the greater number of anthocyanins are produced and the brighter the color. Some plants like sumacs have so much anthocyanins that they mask the caroteniods completely. While others like the sugar maple slowly produce it so that their leaves first turn yellow, orange then red. But some like the birch can't produce it at all.

Dry sunny days followed by cool dry nights enable the above processes to create the brightest colors. The best variety of color comes from hardwood deciduous forests which contain a wide assortment of trees. New England's climate and forests meet both requirements for world class fall foliage.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Seth Low Pierrepont State Park

This week the Women's Hiking group will be exploring the park. But who was Seth Low Pierrepont? He was a millionaire and ex-diplomat who served as a US official in Italy, France and Chile. He was also chief of the American Division of the US State Department. In the early 1930's he purchased this large tract of land from the Scott family and made it into his estate. Upon his death in 1956, he gifted it to the CT State Park & Forest Commission. Its 313 acres contains trails with views, Lake Naraneka (Pierrepont Pond) and history.

The Scott family has a long history in Ridgefield. David Scott was one of the original Proprietors and purchased lot 13 on June 3, 1712. The family included a number of Ridgefield patriots, tanners, millers and of course farmers. When Rana Scott married John Barlow Jr. in 1789, this area was already referred to as the Scotand District and was a thriving community. It is the old foundation of the Scott house dating from 1720's that can be seen at the boat launch. Hints of their farming life can be seen in the stonewalls throughout the park and the cellar holes on the northern end of the park. One of these cellar holes was John Barlow's blacksmith shop. What is now Old Barlow Mountain Road was a main thoroughfare into town. General Wooster led his troops along it on his way to meet the British Army in what was to become The Battle of Ridgefield. Scotland & Barlow Mountain Elementary Schools along with Scott's Ridge Middle School bear the legacy of this family. (photo by sdgtx2003 at Panoramio)

The DC Women's Hiking Group will hike at Seth Low Pierrepont State Park this week on Oct. 5th and Oct. 7th.
Meet at 9:30am in the parking area off Barlow Mountain Rd. Near Scotland and Barlow Mountain Elementary Schools.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The DC Women's hiking group will hike Topstone Park in Redding, CT the week of Sept. 21st, meeting at 9:30am.
Take Topstone Rd. off of Rt. 7. Follow the road across the railroad tracks staying on Topstone Rd.
It will turn into a dirt road. Continue on road and there will be a parking area on the right.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Women Hiking Group - Week Sept 14

This week we move onto Aldrich Park for our twice weekly hike. The park has a series of woodland trails with many outcroppings of ledge, boulder fields, glacial erratics and stonewalls. As the mammoth glacier that covered Connecticut receded 15,000 years ago, it dropped the boulders it had picked up during its march south. These boulders have no relationship to the surrounding geological formations. They just appear erratically and thus they are called glacial erratics.

Meet Tues. and/or Thurs. at 9:30AM at the Aldrich Park parking lot just off New Road. It is not far from the intersection of Farmingville Road.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Jupiter - A Gas Giant

The largest planet in the solar system, Jupiter could hold more than 1,000 Earths. In the late summer, early autumn you can't miss it as it rises in the east shining brighter than any other object in the night sky (except the moon of course). It takes almost 12 Earth years for it to orbit the Sun but only 9 hours 56 minutes to spin around its axis. This fast rotation makes it bulge at the equator and flatten at the poles. It has 16 moons, rings and one big red spot. The Giant Red Spot is caused by winds spinning in opposite directions and has been observed for 300 years.

Only the Sun generates more radiation then Jupiter. This makes approaching it extremely dangerous. In August 2011, NASA will be launching a probe called Juno to explore it. To protect Juno's "brain from being fried" from such massive radiation, engineers added a unique protective shield around its sensitve electronics. This basically makes Juno into an flying armored tank.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Bennett's Pond

This week the Discovery Center Women Hiking Group will begin its twice weekly meetings in Ridgefield's largest open space Bennett's Pond. The 440 acres were acquired by the town via eminent domain in 2001 and conveyed to the State of Connecticut in 2002 to be made into a state park. It is made up of a variety of landscapes from meadows, woodlands, and wetlands to steep ridges. Its most profound feature is the 70-acre pond which is one of the sources of the Saugatuck River. This vital watershed supplies the drinking water for a good portion of lower Fairfield County.

Connecting to Wooster Mountain State Park and Ridgefield's Hemlock Hill/Pine Mountain/Lake Windwing Open Spaces, the area provides a large undeveloped habitat for a wide variety of wildlife. Marble underlies portions of the park which creates buffered soils that support some rare plant species. In the spring, numerous vernal pools provide nursery for woodland amphibians.

It contains 5 miles of hiking trails which range from easy to difficult. If this isn't enough, it connects to the Ives Trail an interconnecting greenway from Ridgefield to Bethel, CT. Bennett's Pond is indeed a town and state treasure.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The DC Women's Hiking Group will start up hiking this week on Tues., Sept. 7th at Bennetts Pond.
We will meet in the parking lot at 9:30am.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Perseid Meteor Shower

August is the time for the most famous of all meteor (falling or shooting star) showers, the Perseids. Beginning in late July and running through about August 22, the Perseids provide the majority of meteors seen by the general public. Coming out of the constellation Perseus, they appear in the northeastern sky usually at about 11 pm and increase in frequency with most appearing in the hours after midnight. On the night of August12/13, their frequency should peak at a rate of 50-80 meteors per hour and then rapidly decline to about 10 per hour by August 15th. This year the moonless sky will provide great viewing.

To view the meteor shower, pick a dark spot away from ground lights and facing the NE. Lie on your back or position yourself so the horizon appears at the edge of your peripheral vision, with star and sky filling out your field of view. Take some time for your eyes to adapt to the dark and avoid lights like flashlights. Bug spray, food, and drinks make the evening more pleasurable. Binoculars are not necessary as your adapted night vision will do just fine. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Women's Hiking Group Thursday, June 17

The group will meet at 9:30 at the upper parking lot of Lewisboro Park on Rte 35 just past NY border. Hike will last one hour.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Women's Hiking Group Tues 6/15

The group will meet Tues, 6/15 at 9:30 am at Lewisboro Park. Take Rte 35 into NY, Lewisboro Park will be on left. Bring a picnic lunch for after the hike.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Women's Hiking Group June 8 & 10

The group will meet Tues (6/8) and Thurs (6/10) this week at 9:30 am and hike at Topstone park in Redding. Directions: Rte 7 to Topstone Rd. Continue over RR tracks to parking area on right.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Women's Hiking Group June 4

The group will meet Thurs, June 3 at 9:30 am at Lake Windwing off South Shore Drive in Ridgefield. (Take Bennett's Farm Rd to South Shore Drive.)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Women's Hiking Group Thurs 5/27

The group will try a new trail at Mountain Lakes Camp in NY on Thursday, May 27, at 9:30 am.
Directions: Take 116 North (1.9 mikes past Ridgefield High School). Turn left on Hunt Rd, follow .9 mile, Hilltop Rd will be on right, trail head on left.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Women's Hiking Group May 25 & 27

The group will meet this week May 25 & 27 at 9:30 am and hike Mountain Lakes Camp in New York. Directions: From Ridgefield High School take 116 into NY. At stop sign turn left following 116/121 (the restaurant Vox will be on left). At fork stay left on 121. Turn left on Hawley Rd and follow signs to Maountin Lakes Camp. Drive all the way in, Camp Morty will be on left, then park in next parking area on right.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Women's Hiking Group May 20

The Women's Hiking Group will meet Thursday at 9:30 am. Directions to meeting place:
Travelling South on Rte 7 turn left on Old Redding Rd. Go under RR then bear right onto Mountain Rd, then turn left on Peaceable St. Parking for hiking area is on left. If you pass the electrical substation you have gone too far.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Women's Hiking Group May 11 & 13

The group will meet this week Tues and Thurs at 9:30 am and hike Bear Mountain and Candle wood Lake. Directions:
Take exit 5 off I-84. Follow Rte 37 North 2.8 miles past shopping centers and prison. Turn right onto Bear Mountain Road (about .2 miles after prison).
Follow Bear Mountain Road for .5 mile, turn right into Bear Mountain reservation where there is a large paved parking lot and maps at trail head.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Women's Hiking Group 5/4 & 5/6

The group will meet this week 5/4 and 5/6 at 9:30 am and hike Seth Low Pierrepont State Park. Parking area is off Barlow Mountain Rd, near Barlow Mountain & Scotland Elementary Schools. Look for the sign for parking area and boat launch.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Women's Hiking Group April 27 & 29

The group will meet Tuesday (4/27) and Thursday (4/29) and hike at Weir Farm. Meeting place: Ancona's parking lot at 9:25 am.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Women's Hiking Group April 13 & 15

The Women's Hiking Group will meet this week Tues (4/13) and Thurs (4/15) at 9:30 am and hike Pine Mountain. Parking is at the end of Pine Mountain Rd in Ridgefield.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Discovery Center's 13th Annual Lego Contest

Congratulations to all of our Lego Contest winners! What a great day we had yesterday at the Rec Center with local Legomaniacs for our 13th Annual Lego Contest! See our photo gallery.
Special thanks to our sponsors and donors: Union Savings Bank, Ridgefield Park & Rec, Mister Mikey, Genoa Pizza & Deli, Steve's Bagels, Dunkin Donuts and Stop & Shop. Also thank you to the contestants and more than 40 volunteers who helped make the Lego Contest possible!

Congratulations to our winners:

PreK/K: Jackary Muldoon, Finn Atkins, Evan Collins

1st Grade: Jack Beeby, Kyra Davis, Jake Schneider

2nd Grade: Jake Dale with Lego Idol, Matthew Lefebvre, Tim Vanni

3rd Grade: Dane Phippen, Omkar Ratnaparkhi, Jake & Ben Cohen

4th Grade: Jason Bangeser & Joshua Gardos, Justin & David Mitchell, Alden Burns

5th Grade: Nile Korobkov, Conor & Brendan Munnelly, John & Killian Buczek

6th Grade & Up: Patrick Gibson, Will Santella

Family: The Mills Family, The Nears, Kendra & Allyson Dotson (The Wondertwins)
People's Choice Award: Jack Halsey

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Art Explorers

Our Art Explorers celebrated the March birthday of Vincent van Gogh and created their own artwork last week. To see our budding artists at work please view the photo gallery.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Women's Hiking Group April 6 & 8

The Women's Hiking group will meet this week Tues (4/6) and Thurs (4/8) at 9:30 am and hike Tarrywile Park in Danbury.
Directions: Take Route 7 North, take exit for Danbury Airport. At light at end of ramp, turn right onto Wooster Heights. Go 8/10ths mile and turn right onto Southern Blvd. Go 6/10ths mile and Southern Blvd. will make a sharp right turn. The Park & Mansion entrance is 100 yards beyond this turn on the right.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

UPDATE: Women's Hiking Group March 30 & April 1

No hike today (3/30) due to rain. The group will met Thursday, 4/1 at Aldrich Park in Ridgefield at 9:30 am. Directions: Take Farmingville Rd to New Rd. Parking area and park entrance is on New Rd.

Friday, March 26, 2010


The sounds of spring are reverberating throughout the woodlands. For the past week or so, spring peeper calls have intensified. But in some areas, interspersed in the peeper chorus is a series of short raspy quacks. This is the unique call of the wood frog. Wearing a mask and slightly bigger than the spring peeper, this little creature is so incredibly adapted that it can live above the Arctic Circle. Wood frogs inhabit the woodlands eating a wide variety of insects and other small invertebrates. In the late fall, it crawls beneath the forest floor's leaf litter and goes into a hibernation-like state. Over wintering on dry land and above the frost line would kill most cold-blooded vertebrates. But the wood frog is unique in that it can survive being frozen solid - a frog-sicle! In the very early springtime, it emerges from hibernation and immediately gets to the business of breeding. These otherwise solitary animals congregate in the large woodland puddles created by snow melt and spring rains called vernal pools. There they mate and lay their eggs in large blobs usually attached to some form of vegetation. The eggs become coated in symbiotic algae that helps give oxygen to the developing embryo. This makes them easily mistaken for clumps of algae. Depending on the temperature of the water, the egg to tadpole to frog metamorphosis could take from 50 - 120 days. This fast development is necessary as most vernal pools dry up before summer. If you would like to learn how this frog survives freezing see: or type "freezing frog" into You Tube's search.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Women's Hiking Group March 23 & 25

The group will meet this week Tues and Thurs at 9:30 am at Topstone in Redding. Take Rte 7 to Topstone Rd. Stay on Topstone and cross RR tracks. Topstone turns into a dirt road and shortly after the parking area is on the right.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

St. Patrick's Scavenger Hunt

Yesterday was a great day for our St Patrick's Scavenger Hunt, and many leprechauns were spotted in Ballard Park! Click for photos.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Why Woodpeckers don't get headaches

Why Woodpeckers don't get headaches: Of all the birds, woodpeckers have the thickest skulls specially designed to withstand repeated blows. Their skull bones are relatively spongy which cushions their little brains. In animals the space between the brain and skull contains a liquid which allows the brain to move about slightly. A blow to the head that makes the brain move too rapidly can cause a headache or worst a concussion (bruising of the brain by hitting the skull). However, woodpeckers skulls contain very little of this fluid making its brain fit more tightly in its skull and thus allowing less movement. The beak and skull are not joined by bone but by cartilage. This cushions each blow. In addition, just before a strike, its jaw muscles contract so that the force of the blow is spread out over its head and along its entire body. Through all these adaptations, woodpeckers have developed to be one of the animals least likely to get a concussion. In fact, the louder the noise, the better they like it.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Women's Hiking Group March 16 & 18

The Women's Hiking Group will meet Tuesday (3/16 and Thursday (3/18) and hike at 9:30 am at Bear Mountain and Candlewood Lake. Directions from I-84:
Take exit 5 off I-84. Follow Rte 37 North past all the shopping centers to more rural part of Danbury. Bear Mountain Rd is 2.8 miles from I-84 on right. Turn right onto Bear Mountain rd and follow for 0.5 mile. Turn right into entrance of bear Mountain Reservation where there is a large paved parking lot. For map click here.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Skunk Cabbage: The First Flower of Spring

The First Flower of Spring begins to bloom while winter is still strong. Since February, skunk cabbage buds have appeared like little monks sticking up out of the wetlands. The little hood is called a spathe and it appears either reddish or mottled. Under this protective hood is a little club called a spadix. On it are numerous, tightly packed petal-less yellow flowers. Amazingly when the plant is in flower, it produces a great deal of heat. Inside the spathe it could be 20 degrees warmer then the outside. This accounts for its ability to melt its way up through the snow or ice. The skunk-like odor that gives the plant its name, is an important adaptation. Nature's earliest pollinators are small flies and other insects that are mainly carrion eaters.
The shape of the spathe plus the plant's heat creates an inviting warm draft which smells like dinner to them. Once they venture inside, the spathe provides a cozy dinning space. For several weeks, this process goes on until the spadix's flowers are pollinated and the blossom begins to wilt. As it starts to wilt, the leave bud - the green point next to the spathe in the picture, begins to unfurl into the largest leaves in the wetlands. By the time the crocuses are blooming, most skunk cabbage blossoms have long passed.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

St. Patrick's Scavenger Hunt Rescheduled to March 20

Due to weather predictions of rain and storms this weekend and wet park conditions, we have rescheduled our St. Patrick's Scavenger Hunt in Ballard Park to Saturday, March 20 at 1:00 pm (rain date Sunday, March 21). To register for this fun family program click here.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Women's Hiking Group week of March 8

The Women's Hiking Group will meet Tues (3/9) and Thurs (3/11) at 9:30 am at Florida Refuge, off Florida Hill Road, parking area off North Valley Road in Ridgefield.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Women's Hiking Group week of March 1

The Women's Hiking Group will meet this week Tues (3/2) and Thurs (3/4) at 9:30 am at Bennett's Pond. Directions; take Rte 7 to Bennett's Farm Road. Trail entrance and parking area are on Bennett's Farm Rd.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Maple Syruping at New Pond Farm

We visited New Pond Farm yesterday for a lesson on maple syruping, including how to tap a tree and boil down the sap to make delicious syrup. It was a great day on the farm. See more photos.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Basic Tracking

Basic Tracking - With the new fallen snow, it is easy to see a wide assortment of comings and goings. Trying to figure out who belongs to a track can be challenging. Identification usually requires a clear print, a track pattern, determining the width of that pattern and lots of practice. In a perfect world, the print should tell you the number of toes and if toenails are present. However, the freezing and thawing of snow quickly distorts them. Feeling the print with your fingers is a good way of determining the number of toes. The track pattern tells you the way in which the animal moved - walking, pacing, bounding or galloping. How fast it was going; if it was "tracking" (placing one foot directly into the footprint of the one in front of it) and if it was dragging its tail. The pattern width helps determine the size of the animal. Knowledge of the life style of the local fauna is helpful too in narrowing down who you are following. Tracking is really the art of putting all these clues together. The web offers lots of tips. But in the field, a good book is the best tool. Even if you can't figure it out, following a trail is a quiet easy way of getting closer to the great outdoors.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Women's Hiking Group 2/23

The Women's Hiking Group will not meet this morning (2/23) due to school closings.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Women's Hiking Group week of February 22

The Women's Hiking Group will meet this week Tues (2/23) and Thurs (2/25) at 9:30 am and hike at Aldrich Park in Ridgefield.
Directions: Take Farmingville Rd to New Rd. Parking area and park entrance are on New Rd.

Sunday, February 21, 2010


Every wonder why Mars appears as a red dot in the night sky? Its hue even gave it its name. Following the Greek tradition, the ancient Romans named it after Mars, their God of War, as it reminded them of the blood spilled on battlefields. Now we know the Martian surface was created mostly by large shield volcanoes. These types of volcano produce large volumes of free flowing lava capable of covering vast areas. The cooled lava became basalt. The minerals in Mars' basalt contain high concentrations of iron. When these minerals combine with oxygen (oxidize), they turn a reddish color similar to rust. Mars has no surface liquid to wash them away. Instead, its atmospheric wind erodes the basalt into very fine dust particles which now cover the Martian landscape. Because this dust contains lots of oxidized minerals, it is mostly rusty in color. Thus when sunlight reflects off its surface, Mars gives off a reddish glow.

Similar soil can be found on Earth too. Hawaii's shield volcano Mauna Kea created similar basalt. Its iron rich minerals have oxidized, eroded and accumulated. Now it so closely resembles the Martian landscape that NASA tests off-world technology on it.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Sensitive Fern (Onoclea sensibilis): This native fern is a common sight in Ridgefield's swamps and marshes. In summer their large green infertile leaves are sometimes 2 - 3 feet tall and can often be found growing in large groups. The colonists gave it this name not because it was sensitive to touch but instead these large fronds die quickly when touched by the first frost. This time of year, it is the separate beaded fertile frond that is obvious. The frost turns it a dark brown making it appear like a beaded twig sticking up out of the snow. These little beads are really mini sacs of spores. Come springtime, they will burst open sending the spores off into the wind in hopes of creating the next generation. Because of this unique structure, the plant is sometimes called the Bead Fern.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Women's Hiking Group 2/18

The Women's Hiking Group will meet today (Thurs, 2/18) at 9:30 am and snowshoe at the Ridgefield Golf Course, 545 Ridgebury Road.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

7 new inches of snow

Some Native American Tribes called February's Full Moon - The Full Hunger Moon.
Traditionally it is the month when the most snow falls thus making hunting difficult. The new 7 inches of power that fall yesterday is a good example. While it makes places like Dly Golf Course great for skiing or snowshoeing, the local wildlife have to work hard for their dinner. Today tracks on Dly showed a fox hunting and deer browsing on tree bark but hardly any small animal tracks.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Women's Hiking Group February 16

The Women's Hiking group will not meet on Tuesday, Feb 16 due to school closings.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Women's Hiking Group February 9 & 11

The Women's Hiking Group will meet this week Tues (2/9) and Thurs (2/11) at 9:30 am at Hemlock Hills.
Directions: Ridgebury Road to Ned's Mountain Road. Entrance is on right across from Bogus Road.

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Ridgefield Press has "Inspire Your Heart with Art" on front page

This week's Ridgefield Press has a great photo from our "Inspire Your Heart with Art" program on the front page, with two adorable Discovery Center kids with their creations.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Women's Hiking Group February 2 & 4

The Women's Hiking Group will meet this week Tuesday (2/2) and Thursday (2/4) and hike at Weir Farm. Meeting place: Ancona's parking lot (on corner of Rtes 7 & 102/Branchville Road) at 9:25 am.

Inspire Your Heart with Art Day

Today children of all ages came to our art studio program to celebrate "Inspire Your Heart with Art" day, and they made beautiful creations that will be on display in the lobby of the Ridgefield Rec Center through Valentine's Day. Take a look and be inspired. Click for more photos of this fun and creative day.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Family Hike & Campfire

We had a great day at our Family Hike & Campfire Sunday, with almost 50 people joining us for a walk around beautiful Lake Winding followed by hot chocolate and toasted marshmallows around the campfire. Click here for photos.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Women's Hiking Group January 26 & 28

The Women's Hiking Group will meet at 9:30 am on Tuesday (1/26) and Thursday (1/28) and hike or snowshoe (depending on the snow) at Sturges Park in Ridgefield. Directions: Take West Mountain Rd. follow and make a right onto Oreneca Rd. At intersection take right on Rippowam Rd. Follow Rippowam .4 miles to parking lot.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Jan 22, 2010 - Girl Scout Astronomy Program

Nature was with us last night as 60 girl scouts explored the heavens during Discovery Center’s Sky Search Junior program. The night was cold and clear making Mars shine so bright that the girls could pick it out as they left the building. The program started with a planetarium like presentation explaining what to look for during the observation portion of the program and some keys into how the Earth moves through space. Other sessions explored the inside workings of a telescope and explained the phases of the Moon. But the night's main attraction was the outside observations. It included viewing through two telescopes and a tour the constellations. One scope showed the girls the play of light and shadow on the craters of the Moon. Orion’s secrets were revealed through the other. As the constellations were pointed out, field binoculars helped with individual exploration. We would like to thank all the volunteers that made the program happen, with a very special Thank You to Mother Nature for letting the girls see it all without a cloud in the sky.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Women's Hiking Group January 19 & 21

The Women's Hiking Group will meet at 9:30 am on Tuesday (1/19) and Thursday (1/21) and hike or snowshoe (depending on the snow) at Sturges Park in Ridgefield.
Directions: Take West Mountain Rd. follow and make a right onto Oreneca Rd. At intersection take right on Rippowam Rd. Follow Rippowam .4 miles to parking lot.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Red Fox on Bennett's Farm Road

Today I saw a beautiful red fox crossing Bennett's Farm Road near Ridgebury School. I am happy to note that he made it safely across the street and back into the woods.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Women's Hiking Group January 12 & 14

The Women's Hiking Group will meet this week Tuesday (1/12) and Thursday (1/14) at 9:30 am and snowshoe at Ridgefield Golf Course, 545 Ridgebury Road, Ridgefield

Sunday, January 10, 2010

American Girls: Life in 1944

Thanks to all the girls (and parents) that attended our American Girls program yesterday. This program took girls back in time to visit the life of an American girl living in 1944. We had a great day, learned a lot, and had fun! For more photos from this event please visit our photo gallery.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Women's Hiking Group January 5 & 7

The Women's Hiking group will meet this week Tuesday (1/5) and Thursday (1/7) at 9:30 am at Bennett's Pond. The parking area is off Bennett's Farm Road in Ridgefield. Directions: Take Rte 7 to Bennett's Farm Road.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Gingerbread House Workshop

Thanks to everyone who attended our Gingerbread House Workshop on December 12. We had a fun morning, including a story with Mrs. Claus. To view more photos from this fun event please visit our photo gallery. Happy Holidays!

The Discovery Center's 25th Anniversary!

Happy New Year!!!! 2010 marks The Discovery Center's 25th Anniversary, and we are planning special programs to celebrate! Thank you to all of our members, donors, sponsors, and friends for your support. We are looking forward to continuing our tradition of fun, educational, and affordable programs in 2010!