November was an intriguing mix of extremes: from going barefoot on November 4 and noticing more and more signs of spring to a severe winter snow and ice storm with high winds that knocked out power to our entire island and shut down everything in the Puget Sound region for two days on November 22.
During this season we get a chance to talk about wind – we notice that we can hear it and see evidence that it is there by watching the branches move and the trees dance, however we cannot actually see the wind itself. We talked about how wind moves like water.
We were lucky enough to get one fabulous snow day this month. We ate snow off the salal and madrona leaves, which looked like plates. We made tiny snow familes and experimented with holding snow until it melted. We painted the snow and our art table with non-toxic powder paints, using it both dry by sprinkling and wet in a squeeze bottle.
We got alot of chances for water play this month. We experienced a couple of pouring rain days much to our delight! We made our rivers and channels and dams and lakes. We studied our mud puddle as it filled higher than we’ve ever seen it and then receded leaving discernible layers of leaf litter, sand and silky smooth mud. Smooth mud provided the opportunity to observe animals tracks or footprints, mostly of worms and song birds this time of year.
We’ve been talking alot about hibernation and how the plants also hibernate or go dormant. We have talked alot about what camaflouge means and played several games to increase powers of observation and blending in, such as “Eagle Eye” and “What’s Missing” and “Find the Dragon Tear”. We are continuing to challenge ourselves to find as many different mushrooms as possible and are so far up to 17 varieties. Many of the russulas we were watching last month get nibbled by forest creatures are turning into moldy mush and becoming soil again.
Because of the wind, we have seen some interesting varieties of lichen that grow higher in the trees and had a chance to eat fresh “forest candy” (doug fir buds). We are also finding many madrona berries to eat that have fallen from the treetops. We are nibbling alder catkins from young branches thrown to the ground in the winds. The forest floor is carpeted with fir needles, leaves and branches of every tree species.
We have created much spontaneous forest art this month, using the more vivid colors of the autumn northwest forest: yellows, ambers, ochre, orange, red, greens. We have been making leaf spinners and necklaces with yarn, beads and colorful leaves. We found ourselves making many new fairy houses for the fairies to find comfort during the cold weather, complete with leaf baskets filled with huckleberries.
As the weather has cooled, we have had several fires already. A few times we popped popcorn over the fire and sat around on our log stools and told stories. On other cold days, I brought our “edible hand warmers” aka baked potatoes.
By Erin Kenny ©2010