Week # 3!
Last week we had the pleasure of our friend Michael Ismerio guest teaching in Clint's absence. Today we were happy to have Clint back and hit the woods for another awesome day at River Otter.
A few highlights:
The day started out with a gorgeous sunrise casting golden light over the mountains in Reem's Creek. The sight of a flock of wild turkeys peacefully meandering across the green fields blessed my morning as I drove into this incredible valley.
This season of harvest wouldn't be complete without some gathering of nature's bounty. This morning, upon finding our running space for morning games strewn with fallen black walnuts, the River Otters worked together and filled a big bucket up to the top, to be incorporated into a future project. (Black walnut tie-die, anyone?)
Before lunch, we shared a story and a song about our recurring characters Raccoon, Fox, Weasel and Coyote. The story led into the next activity, a game in which half the group becomes "wildlife," hiding in the forest, while the other half are the naturalists, walking slowly and quietly down the trail, trying to spot as many "wild animals" as possible. This is a favorite game of mine because it trains the acuity of vision and quiet mind necessary to move skillfully in the woods, while employing the fun of embodying our favorite animals and the adrenaline of "don't get caught!" present in many hiding games. We created wild stilt grass headdresses and used mud and clay camouflage to aid our invisibility in the understory of the forest.
Later in the day, we worked towards mastery of the balance & agility of a Jedi with our "Jedi Training" structure. Becoming confident in our bodies abilities and coordination. The kids cheering each other on and and practicing some meditative "Ohmmmmm"s became the soundtrack to the intense focus required in this challenge.
We closed out the day by enjoying some time at the creek, splashing and relishing the last of the warm days! Salamander and crayfish-catching was the order of the hour and we set about the task busily. Two favorite new friends found were "Dragonfly" (a dusky salamander) and "Pinchers" (an impressively-sized but mild-mannered crayfish)
By the creek, we also met Wood Nettle (a relation to Stinging Nettle), experienced its mild prickle, then got to utilize the beautiful plant with the amazing exploding seed pods we had been exploring last week. The powerful medicine of Jewel Weed (or Spotted Touch-Me-Not) is a skin-soother, good for nettle, poison ivy and other stings and rashes.
Part of what I love so much about this work is engaging with the senses and connecting to the natural world through the direct experience of touch. We got our hands into so much today and got nice and dirty (as you probably noticed when you picked up your child). At today's closing circle, we went around and shared our favorite textures and sensations from the day. They included: a crayfish's hard shell, some soft mossy rocks, flowing water in the creek, and the slipperiness of a salamander.
As always, thank you for the privilege of working with your incredible children. Their collective wisdom, resourcefulness and sheer enthusiasm are a blessing to my life and Forest Floor's programs.