While some people play April Fools pranks on their friends, Lois Lindberg likes to have fun with the participants in the April Fools hike at Sagamore Hill National Historic Site. The first prank came when the hike began, as Lindberg showed a small group of adults a bird’s nest filled with what looked like robin eggs. “There’s only one way to find out if these are real,” Lindberg said, popping one into her mouth. While the gag was meant to fool youngsters, the adults laughed, realizing that the “eggs” were candy-coated chocolate.
Before joining the Sagamore Hill team, Lindberg worked as a curator of natural history for Nassau County parks and museums. After taking an early retirement, she was looking to do more of what she enjoyed, which led her to join Sagamore Hill as a volunteer and nature program leader.
During the hike, Lindberg and fellow naturalist Wendy Albin took the group on a tour of the grounds that Theodore Roosevelt and his family once enjoyed. The hike included an open field that was once a pasture, the old orchard site, then headed down the nature trail to Cold Spring Harbor and back around.
Throughout the tour, Lindberg and Albin delighted the groups with fun facts about the indigenous plants and wildlife, and had plenty of puns to share. “This is a gneiss [pronounced nice] rock, but don’t take it for granite,” Lindberg cracked at one point.
Other jokes included placing a stick of butter in a cup next to a buttercup plant, and pictures of a dragon and a fly to indicate where dragonflies live.
One of the hikers, Linda Robbins, of Oyster Bay, said she loves the trails at Sagamore Hill because leashed dogs are permitted.
“It’s beautiful, especially the path behind the orchard house,” Robbins said. “[The dogs] can go on the beach, and it’s nice to see other people with their dogs. And in the summertime, it’s beautiful — you can see the sailboats,” she added, referring to the view from the harbor.
Another nature enthusiast, Tom Hornosky of Locust Valley, also joined the hike. The game warden of the North Shore Wildlife Sanctuary, Hornosky enjoys nature just as much as Lindberg.
“My father was a warden before me, so I grew up with him going on nature hikes,” Hornosky said. “You see some of the same things over and over, but nature always throws something different at you and it’s really nice.”
Lindberg, who grew up next to the Massapequa Preserve, said she fell in love with nature just by being surrounded by it. Being a naturalist, she explained, requires interpretive skills. “Just like a language interpreter takes something that's maybe not understandable and puts it in terms that people will understand better,” she explained, “same with the natural world. “So we take things like the bird feathers or the trees or the seeds and put them into terms that people can understand and appreciate. A lot of it is just to open people’s eyes to things they might not have noticed before.”
For more information on the Sagamore Hill National Preserve, visit www.nps.gov/sahi/index.htm.