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Come to Cafe Cattail for Coffee and Cheer

Something more than owl hoots and bird calls will be heard at Huntley Meadows this weekend. The sound of people singing, playing instruments and reading poetry will break the solitude of this quiet park in the woods during their community coffeehouse — Café Cattail.

Held once a quarter, this is the third time that the café has been held at Huntley Meadows. It will start at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, March 8.

"We didn't know what to expect the first time," said Ann Stat, interpreter at Huntley Meadows. What they discovered was that a lot of original poetry was read, people played the guitar and keyboard, people danced and the Capitol Harmonica Club performed.

Although the idea had been tossed around for awhile, the person credited for getting the coffeehouse going is Karen Nyere, a volunteer at the park. "It all started when I joined the Monday morning bird group," said Nyere who's been teaching wetlands ecology at the park for the past two years.

She discovered that she and Carolyn Gamble, assistant manager of Huntley Meadows, shared a love for music and nature. They recently formed their own dance group called Cara Cara, and they do earth-based performances.

Karen said she thought, "Wouldn't it be nice to invite the community to come to Huntley Meadows and share a poem or a song or a dance about nature?"

Her motto in life is "If you can walk, you can dance. If you can talk, you can sing," and during the coffeehouse everybody is encouraged to share. "It's very supportive," said Nyere.

"We've had two so far, and they've been very big hits. It's always a mix, and a family event. We've had everything from an 8-year-old playing "Snowflakes" on the piano to a 78-year-old playing the harmonica," said Nyere.

Gamble said that this event is done in conjunction with the Friends of Huntley Meadows Park. Refreshments are sold to raise money for projects at the park. Charles Studholme, owner of One Good Tern, donates shade-grown coffee, and members of the Friends bring baked goods.

"It's very different from other coffeehouses," said Stat. "It's sort of an open mike for nature lovers."

All works, whether they're poetry, music or dance, should pertain to nature. In the past, everybody has had an opportunity to share as much as he wanted. However, if there is a large crowd, each person might only be able to share one piece. All ages are encouraged to come and share.

"The fun part is that children participate," said Stat. "It's been a delight."

To sign up for the coffeehouse, call 703-768-2525.