Hello Red Tailed Hawk Families!
On Monday, a chilly morning of jackets and gloves turned to a warm afternoon perfect for playful adventure. Lucky for us, as some of our day involved exploring through and around water.
After group games, drumming, and dancing in the morning, Clint told the story of a hunter who, after tracking animals through the forest in search of medicine for his people, is surprised to find what they need not in the mighty elk or the wily raccoon, but with tiny Grandmother spider.
Inspired by the story, we departed from the man-made trail and bushwhacked until we came to a clearly defined path worn in the tall grasses. A deer trail! Following the deer trail led us directly to another exciting discovery: the creek! There, crystal clear, impressed into the sandy shore were images direct from the morning’s story. Tracks! We couldn’t have planned it better. Raccoon, deer, even fox tracks crisscrossed and zigzag all over the expansive creek banks. Much excitement and cries of “Look over here!” and “Check out what I found!” resounded across the water. Excitement and inspiration guided the group into creative ways of crossing the creek in order to continue following the tracks. Creek crossing methods were as diverse as our individual members, everything from intrepidly braving the somewhat-chilly water, to balancing on a log, to getting help from friends.
As we crested the steep bank on the other side of the water, a land most magical spread out before us. Deer trails beckoned in all directions. Sun was filtering through the trees, spilling bright light across little clearings and tangles of brambles, adding a fairytale-like quality to the scene. We marveled that we were exploring land that families of deer have known intimately for decades, but that humans have rarely touched. Winding our way through the maze of deer trails led us to an excellent natural playground with fallen logs to clamber on, a boggy place to squelch through and throngs of cattails taller than most of our group members. We searched for evidence of deer beds and deer hairs and found beautiful webs, each of them home to a “Grandmother Spider.” We ate lunch in a gorgeous clearing and practiced embodying animal senses in a game of Cougar Stalks Deer.
Later in the afternoon, we settled down to work together processing the acorns we gathered in previous weeks and listened to a story about Tom Brown, master tracker, who developed his skills of patience and persistence to get closer to a deer and learn it’s secrets.
Another highlight from the older group was the triumph of catching falling leaves in mid-air and identifying which trees they fell from. Tulip poplar, sycamore, white oak. Leaf catching is great for practicing awareness and being in the moment. In the split second it takes a leaf to fall, perhaps just inches away from your nose, if you aren’t paying attention, even the quickest reflexes will leave you grasping nothing but air. Many vibrant leaves were gathered, “good luck” talismans for our Red Tailed Hawk crew.
The culmination of the day came with both groups in full sneaking mode, each trying to sneak up on the other. What a surprise to find that while one group was stalking through the woods, another was already lying in wait, camouflaged to the fullest in heaps of fallen leaves.
At our closing circle together, our shout-out of the day was an impassioned cry of “Tracks!” as hands were flung towards the sky in release of another awesome day of Red Tailed Hawk at the Asheville School.
Thank you for sending your incredible children to us. These magical adventures would not happen without them and without you, the families, supporting them all the way. My life is enriched because of you all.