Turtle News – November Issue 2020

by Alexis Franklin

“This Thanksgiving, I’m grateful for family, friends, time for rest and play in McMichael Park, the golden tree canopy and — of course — The Turtle.”

Many thanks to The William Penn Charter School students who painted the repaired benches in McMichael Park. Bench repair was recently completed by PP&R. The paint materials were supplied by The Friends of McMichael Park. The students had a great time “being green” on this Friday afternoon in November. Awesome! (photo credits: Tom Rickards)

(photo credits: Regina Maxwell, Beth Gross-Eskin and Alexis Franklin)

Signs of Love Your Park Solo throughout McMichael Park are visible with some seasonal additions of scarecrows, pumpkins and mums. Fall leaves bring such beauty to the scenery with festive oranges and yellows. To rake or not to rake? The old school thinking was to remove every leaf from the lawn. The advice today is that dead leaves, handled well, can help the environment, improve the grass and give you time to enjoy that hot chocolate on an autumn day. Mulching leaves is accomplished by breaking down the leaves in small pieces, usually by mowing them. Tiny particles of mulched leaves improve the lawn. The mulched leaves set around the tree pits, and grass puts nitrogen back in the soil as decomposition takes place. This process works better if mulched several times during the season. Be careful, as a heavy layer of fallen leaves can smother the turf.

Some leaf litter also benefits certain habitat for winter months. Toads and earthworms, some butterflies and moths use leaves as their homes for the winter season. A toad was seen during one of our story hours with Falls of Schuylkill librarian, Ms. Meredith … where there is one, there are many!

The process of mulching leaves in McMichael Park by PP&R was discontinued several years ago. Today, the leaves are bagged and taken to the city’s recycling center for composting. Never mix trash or other recyclable materials with bagged leaves. This contaminates leaves and makes them unfit for recycling purposes. In the spring, the composted mulched leaves are returned to neighborhood parks upon request. The Friends of McMichael Park are grateful to the volunteers who provide this service for McMichael Park. Please be aware the McMichael Park is not a leaf drop off location. For drop-off details and leaf collection schedules visit PhiladelphiaStreets.com/leaves or call 311.

Congratulations to Frank and Mary Kaderabek on their 60th Wedding Anniversary. Their family surprised them with a tree planted in McMichael Park through the Gift for All Seasons Program. A Black Tupelo, “Nyssa Sylvatica” was planted by PP&R’s Jim Moffatt. Thank you. What a lovely addition and enhancement to McMichael Park.

There is still no “caution “signage in the McMichael Park playground construction area at this time. Please avoid this danger area, including the sidewalk along Coulter St. Construction began two months ago. As of this printing the status of the permit for this project is still pending. The photo above is the signage used to manage the playground construction in Gold Star Park (615 Wharton St.).

Caution from PP&R: While more people are spending time outside, PP&R urges citizens to continue to be vigilant and careful, and follow the Green Phase Best Practices for PFN for all activities. 

Park Friends Network (ONLINE) Meeting
Thursday, November 12th
Please mark your calendars and join us for our next Park Friends Network Meeting on Thursday, November 12th from 6:00 – 7:30 PM online via Zoom. We’ll share important updates and information.

Meet our Amazing FOMP Volunteer: Cynthia Kishinchand

“He that does good for good’s sake seeks neither paradise nor reward, but he is sure of both in the end.” – William Penn

In July, 1970, my husband Kumar and I looked at a East Falls house for sale. We drove from Center City along billboard free East River Drive, now Kelly Drive. The hustle and bustle of the city seemed far away. Driving up Midvale Avenue I took in the sights of St. Bridget Church, the Falls of Schuylkill Library, and the trees and greenery by Thomas Mifflin School. Then, what to my wandering eyes appeared, but McMichael Park. Forty-nine years later t’is a rare day  I don’t comment how lucky we were to move into this now ninety-nine year-old abode which is a one minute-walk from this green oasis.

As time passed, I learned the challenges facing Fairmount Park, now part of Philadelphia Parks and Recreation, and local residents to maintain the site and to keep it safe. Thanks to Alexis Franklin, Keith Shively, and Tom Williams who thirty years ago founded Friends of McMichael Park (FOMP), I realized with love, collaboration, planning, and hard work, people could make sure this part of William Penn’s “Greene Countrie Towne” would be a beautiful, shady, restful, safe, public space for people of all ages to enjoy for centuries to come.   

My contributions have been modest compared to those of others. I have picked up trash and painted benches on “Love Your Park Day’ events. As time passed I realized this was a perfect spot for Mifflin students to learn about trees. Fast forward: thanks to grants to East Falls Tree Tenders (EFTT) from the Philadelphia Activities Fund (PAF) and East Falls Community Council (EFCC), hundreds of Mifflin students have learned about trees and nature from Bartram’s Garden educators. Yes, I see every youngster as a future tree tender and park protector.

Other unexpected pleasures included acquiring two “Doggie-Pots” from the Schuylkill Environmental Center so visitors with dogs would always have access to a bag for their pets’ feces. Then there was the matter of the Champion Pawlonia tree whose welfare concerned me. With the approval of FOMP and EFTT, I applied for a PAF grant to cable the at-risk branches of this Champion tree. Once again, generosity prevailed and Bartlett Tree Service did the work pro bono and EFTT was permitted to use the grant for the school programs. Then Mayor Edward G Rendell choose McMichael Park as his favorite spot when East Falls Tree Tenders raised money and planted a tree in his honor.

Twelve years ago… came Shakespeare. Thanks to FOMP volunteers who wrote grants, I had the opportunity to help promote the Bard of Avon during the 11 years Commonwealth Theatre presented his and other works for free to the public productions. I am sure William would have loved the setting as much as everyone else did.

So, do you see what I see?

Do you see volunteers planting and caring for the garden plots, hauling water for trees, painting benches, raking leaves, picking up trash and fallen branches? In May, do you see the Morton the Turtle welcoming young and old to the Memorial Day event?  In February, do you see the glow of Love Lights? In December, do you see folks singing Christmas Carols?  On winter night do you look toward the sky and see snowflakes falling?  In autumn do you see leaves turn to shades of yellow, orange, and red?  Throughout the year do you see dog walkers, parents and children kicking a soccer ball, people sitting under trees having a picnic or reading a book?

My hope: For current and future residents is to continue to work with FOMP and PP&R to sustain this undeveloped space so it continues to be the calming public site we all need all seasons of the year.