Maxwell Corydon Wheat, Jr. has taken his seventh and eighth grade students in the Farmingdale Public Schools on writing field trips to Long Island’s salt marshes in Fire Island National Seashore and Robert Moses and Caumset State Parks. For three years he has conducted an October salt marsh (when the marsh’s Spartina grasses turn golden) round-robin participatory poetry reading program at Cedarmere, Roslyn Harbor, home of the 19th Century poet, William Cullen Bryant, where he volunteers in programming. People take turns reading stanzas, particularly those of America’s great 19th century work about the East Coast’s salt marshes, Sidney Lanier’s "Hymns of the Marshes." Wheat has learned much about salt marshes in Nassau County’s Cow Meadow Preserve, five blocks from his home in Freeport, where he and his wife, Virginia, enjoy walking. The idea for the grandfather character in the poem he is reading, "Grandfather Loved the Salt Marshes," comes from Alonzo Gibbs’ septuagenarian character, Orrie Shadbolt, exploring and adventuring with two teenage friends in the South Shore Long Island salt marshes in his novel, "By a Sea-Coal Fire" (Lothrop, Lee & Shepard, Inc., New York - 1968).
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