Spring has definitely arrived at Cedarsong and the forest is exploding with new growth and blossoming flowers.
New leaves on the evergreen huckleberry are dramatic, being a lovely range of yellow, pink, and red colors. The kids are enjoying eating this treat (they call it “goodness”) and adding it to our morning forest tea. The huckleberries and the madrona flowers are falling off the branches, making collecting easy. These sweet flowers have a drop of honey at their base and are a favorite edible of the kids. One day we made Forest Flower tea with madrona, evergreen huckleberry, salmonberry, and wild violet flowers. A couple of the kids said it was their favorite tea that we had ever made!
We are continuing to monitor the spectacular growth of the bracken ferns. At the beginning of this month we were challenmging ourselves to spot the new fiddleheads emerging from the ground. We put some sticks in the ground up to the top level of several of the ferns so we could measure their growth. Each day we check and EACH DAY those ferns are taller! Some of them are already taller than me! We also have been counting rings on trees to find out their age. One tree we had to take down for the outdoor kitchen was 73 years old! We are noticing lots of new light green growth on the kids’ baby cedar trees and some of them have grown a few inches.
We are also closely watching the sword ferns circle by the library decompose. We noticed that those ferns are taking longer to decay than any other leaves we have watched. They are actually starting to turn brown and shrivel now, 3 months later! It is a good lesson about the different rates of decomposition and how evergreen (tougher, waxier) leaves take alot longer to decompose.
We found a dead mouse on the trail the other day and I carefully set it on a log so we could watch that decompose. Some of the kids found that fascinating and one asked “You mean animals decompose too?” We will watch the decomposer insects as they do their work in the next couple of weeks. The children all know to never touch a dead animal.
We have seen alot of animal tracks at our mud puddle. We have seen evidence of thrushes and smaller birds by recognising their foot prints. We talked about why songbirds have three toes in front and one in back (for grasping branches) and this lead to a discussion about the different types of feet that all animals have depending on what their lifestyle is. When we saw raccoon tracks we were able to observe that it has very long toes and nails, the better for climbing trees.
With the increasing warm weather, we have been shedding layers each day and are really looking forward to going barefoot soon and ditching our rain pants for the season! With the warm days, we have been observing alot more insects and getting up-close looks at black beetles, grubs, millipedes, centipedes, bumblebees, and crane flies. We have a great new magnifier that is like a three legged stool and really easy for the kids to use for our insect observations.
We are beginning to do some yoga too, now that we aren’t wearing such bulky clothes. We have a great yoga deck from the Samarya Center (www.samaryacenter.org) that is geared towards children and we delight in each of us choosing a card and then doing the poses together. We are continuing our story telling, with themes emerging about baby animals and cocoons. We have also played our “What’s Missing” game several times: we lay out 8-10 nature objects in a line, then everyone closes their eyes except one person who takes something from the line and then we all have to guess what’s missing.
All of nature is uplifted right now and the energy of the season is one of expanding outward. We have noticed an increasing energy and joie de vivre amongst the children, and we feel it ourselves as we run and skip and sing and dance our way down the trails. Happy Spring, indeed!
By Erin Kenny ©2010