Last Saturday a neighboring community hosted its annual Chocolate Fest in the village hall's auditorium located in the quaint, historic downtown.
I brought my camera, not realizing the battery was dead. I was glad to have my cell phone, although I'd never used the camera. Eventually I figured it out, and was able to snap a few photos during a break.
Each year, Master Gardeners from the local University of Illinois Extension have a booth at the festival. It's a great way to raise awareness about the Extension and the services it offers to the community. Earlier this month I began Master Gardener training at the extension office, and Chocolate Fest was my first volunteer assignment.
It was great fun! And the day was delightful in more ways than one. After arriving home, upon checking emails I was delighted to learn my youngest daughter and 5-year-old grandson will be returning home to Illinois! As you can imagine, the family is thrilled. We've all missed them immensely and are looking forward to their return. What better way to celebrate than with chocolate!
Our assignment for the day was planting trees with children. We had two sets of tables - one with literature, coloring books, and touchy-feeley stuff like the cross-section of a tree trunk, bark and all. The other tables held our supplies - three tubs of pine seedlings - Ponderosa, Limber, and Southern White Pines - about a hundred seedlings per tray.
We had tubs of soil, cottage cheese containers, soft drink cups, paper lunch bags (where we wrote the name of the variety of tree each child selected for themselves,) and a set of instructions for each tree.
The children scooped soil into the bottom of their cup, and placed their tree in the cup. We supported the trees as they added soil to fill the cup. As they planted, we explained how to care for the trees at home. This shot was taken near the end of the Fest. By this time we had only a few seedlings left.
The kids' eyes lit up with excitement at the idea of taking care of their own little tree and planting it this spring. It was a nice way to spend an afternoon, helping kids connect with nature indoors where it was nice and warm, while a cold, biting wind blew and snow swirled around outside.
Winter is a good time to get a jump on volunteer hours, so I was happy this opportunity came along. Coming home to find a happy email from from my daughter was the icing on the cake. Chocolate and children were a perfect combination for a perfectly delightful day.