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Laurel Lake Preserve has plenty of room to explore. (Credit: Grant Parpan)

Hi, North Fork! We are a small independent school called the Peconic Community School. Today we thought we would write you recommendations of what to do to make it through this tough time of social distancing.

We want to bring some light back into your days in a way that is still safe.

As kids, we are trying to adjust as much as everyone else and we recognize everyone’s struggle.

We hope you can escape for a little with these recommendations. We are all here for you and your families. Stay safe, stay healthy, and stay sane.

Drive and seek

Social distancing is easy in a car. When I go for a ride around the North Fork I try to notice the things that others don’t. Things like the sounds of tree frogs in the forest right near Peconic Dunes County Park on West Drive in Southold, or the oldest tree on the North Fork, which is located in the heart of Orient. Almost all of the time, people only use cars for their fast transportation value, but at this time we have no obligations like work or school. We have time to savor the beauty of the places we live, from a safe distance. 

During this time I learned about unusual places that almost nobody visits, like Wolf Pit Lake for example. How I found Wolf Pit Lake was because whenever I drove down the Mattituck stretch of the North Road I saw an old victorian house that towered over the rest and next to it, a tall sculpture. Ever since I was little I had wondered what was up with that place and it turned out that both of those places were set right on Wolf Pit Lake. I encourage you to also find your own cool and interesting places. The North Fork is full of them!

Another thing to look for on the North Fork right now is rainbows. Rainbows have been placed all over the North Fork, from the homes of everyday people to the windows and storefronts of local restaurants. One of my favorite things to do on a drive through the North Fork is to start a “rainbow count.” So, on your next drive, keep looking out for rainbows. You never know where they might be hiding.

Local virtual experiences

With lots of closures, many East End organizations are offering virtual experiences. Here is a couple to check out:

Cornell Cooperative Extension, Riverhead and Southold

On this website, there are three types of things that you can do to learn more about ospreys — educational stuff, art projects, and fun activities. You can learn about ospreys via videos, PowerPoint and a fact sheet. You can watch videos on how to draw ospreys or on how to make them in a collage, and watch a video about how to do the blind contour drawing art exercise. To have fun you can do the activities on the right side of the site. Those activities are a coloring page, a crossword puzzle and a hidden pictures game. 

I suggest the CCE Marine webpage to kids of any age who love ospreys and enjoy birds because it is still important to have a connection with nature, even if you cannot go to these places right now.

Virtual Tour of Pollack-Krasner House and Study Center, Springs, NY

Artist and educator Joyce Raimondo is giving free virtual tours on Tuesdays and Thursdays of the Pollock-Krasner House, where Jackson Pollack and his wife Lee Krasner lived. I participated in one on Thursday afternoon and really enjoyed it.

During the tour, the first thing she showed us was Jackson Pollock’s studio. It is really cool because it looks like a barn. In the studio, she showed us how Jackson Pollock did his drip paintings. 

After the studio tour, she taught us how to do action painting ourselves. I liked this because she took a thick paintbrush and red paint and flung it hard on the canvas to show strong emotions. To show positive emotions, she used pastels and bright colors and gently dropped them in loops and curves.

After that, she left the studio and went into the house and told us that artists like the East End for its streams and water because they give different lighting. She even showed us some of the found art that Pollack and Krasner collected.

I really enjoyed it, and hope that more kids take advantage of this opportunity. 

Take a hike

The pandemic has been hard for me and my family adjusting to this huge lifestyle change. So I thought that I could recommend some trails and parks on the North Fork. It could be a nice chance to get out of the house and be out in the fresh air for a while. 

One trail that my family really enjoys is Laurel Lake Preserve. Laurel Lake Preserve is located on the Main Road and has fourteen miles of trails. The trails surround a large lake that is home to bass and rainbow trout. It is well-groomed and very pretty! 

 Another place I really love to visit is Hallock State Park Preserve on Sound Avenue in Jamesport. The preserve encompasses 225 acres and is really awesome because the trails lead down to the beach. When it gets warmer you can swim, skip stones and run down the beach. You can find tons of interesting wildlife such as birds, robin fish, fish and tons of beautiful trees. There are longer trails if you are a person that wants more exercise, and there are shorter ones if you just want to enjoy the scenery and escape for a little bit.  

Now that we are spending more and more time indoors and on screens, I hope these recommendations help you cope with social distancing, give you some relief, and give you something to do with you and your family.

Laurel Lake Preserve is located at 5501 Main Road, Laurel, NY 11948

Stay home, make a zine, make someone’s day

In class, we were learning about something called a zine before the quarantine. But, guess what? The great thing about a zine is you can make it at home too. What we are doing in the virtual class is making zines and putting them out in the world for people to find.

Zine might be a word you have not heard before. Well, a zine is basically a little tiny magazine. Back in the day, in the late 80’s early 90’s, zines became a big thing. They were popular because they were a way for people to express themselves any way they chose.  Also, they’re a quick and easy read, so kids love them. 

They slowly started to go extinct but — fear not! — they are coming back through quarantine because they’re fun and easy to make out of a single piece of paper. A quick google search will show you how. A zine can have many things: pictures, drawings, games, a letter, or — if you want to play it originally — just words.

If you’re a sports fan you can do one about your favorite sports team: make it a prediction or a scorecard. Or, you can track how many yards Saquon Barkley has, or how many comebacks Joe Montana had. Or, make a tribute to the best QB of all-time — Joe Montana, of course.

I hope to see one of your zines running around somewhere. If you put a zine out into the world make sure the paper is nature friendly, or it’s in a spot where it can’t blow into the ocean.

Once social distancing is over, you could even sell them, like at a lemonade stand!