Local Commentary

A Penny for Your Thoughts: News from Greater Falls Church




“Nature deficit disorder” is the term used by Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods, to describe what he sees as a failure for today’s children: too much time in front of computer screens and not enough time in free play outdoors.

The National Wildlife Federation adds that children are “unplugged from the fundamental and formative experience of nature in their own neighborhoods.”

Fortunately, at Hidden Oaks Nature Center in Annandale, children can activate their sense of wonder and all their other senses at “Nature Playce,” an outdoor wooded area where they can listen to birds and the breeze in the trees, examine dirt and twigs and roly-polys, see woodpecker holes in the old snag, and romp down a hillside into piles of leaves. Nature Playce was constructed as an Eagle Scout project. The split rail fences were recycled from the Bull Run Battlefield, and a tiny waterfall and pond were installed; but most of Nature Playce is just that – an area that presents nature just as she is, with bugs to peer at, dirt to trample in, and tree stumps (just a few inches high) to jump on. Today, Nature Playce is garbed in golds and browns of autumn. I can hardly wait to see it in frosty winter, or in the first green nudge of spring.

Nature Playce at Hidden Oaks Nature Center is located at 7701 Royce Street in Annandale (just off Hummer Road), and is open during business hours. Admission is free. For more information about Nature Playce and other children’s programs, please call 703/941-1065.

Hidden Oaks Nature Center will observe its 40th Anniversary in 2009. To celebrate, the Friends of Hidden Oaks Nature Center (FOHONC) volunteers are sponsoring the Great Wall of Nature Art Tiles. This is your family’s opportunity to have your own artwork enshrined permanently at the center, and help support FOHONC activities at the same time. Your 8 ½ by 8 ½ inch artwork will be made into a permanent 6-inch square tile for display on the Great Wall near the entrance to the center. The cost is only $20, and all proceeds help support Nature Center programs. Call the number listed above for details about participation and preparation of artwork.

The ever-popular Annandale Parade will step off from the Annandale United Methodist Church at Columbia Pike and Gallows Road at 10 a.m. this Saturday, rain or shine. Some of the best places to watch the parade are along Columbia Pike at the Annandale Shopping Center, and near Fire Station 8 a little farther west. Maple Place, near the American Legion Bicentennial Post 1976, is a good spot too, with lots of space for lawn chairs. The parade will wind up at the Little River Shopping Center, where the Annandale Fall Festival will begin immediately following the parade.

Absentee in-person voting for Fairfax County residents is on-going at the Mason District Governmental Center, 6507 Columbia Pike in Annandale, Monday through Friday from 1 p.m. until 8 p.m., and Saturdays from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Last day to vote absentee in-person is Saturday, November 1. Bring your needlework, a book, or other material to help pass the time while you wait your turn to vote.

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