We wanted to walk on Mackworth Island again to see the fairy houses, but so did everyone else in Portland, ME, on New Years Day, so my brother suggested Gilsland Farm instead. Managed by Maine Audubon, its generous tangle of trails was built with children in mind, and is a favorite of my niece and nephew.
Occupying high bluffs overlooking the Presumpscot Estuary, the views from the West Meadow Trail were stark in their winter beauty under the low near-solstice northern sun. We saw some ducks and gulls and a few chipmunks and squirrels, but while we didn’t see much of the sanctuary’s abundant wildlife, bedded down or gone for the winter, nor wildflowers in the open fields, we did get to learn about a famous snowy owl.
On one portion of the walk, the pages of Melissa Kim‘s children’s book A Snowy Owl Story, with illustrations by Jada Fitch, had been put up on big signs, each a couple hundred feet apart. We went from sign to sign, and Mom and I helped my nephew, who just started reading before I left Maine last summer, read each page of the story as we went. He’s learned so much! And he learned a few new sight-words as we went: owl, was….
It was a perfect day for walking with little kids!