Woods and Wetlands 2017

Those Kids Are Climbing That Tree!

Last week with my Tuesday group was relaxing and fun.  I have realized recently that there is no reason daily life can’t be this way more often.  Stressful and busy do not have to define a day in order for it to be worthwhile.  Spending time with children who are delighting in the dispersal of cattail fluff, climbing high into a tilted tree, and tying bits of nature treasures to a stick is a perfect way to pass part of a day.

We remained in our usual area rather than hike over to the new wetland.  The kids voted last week for the new and this week for the old.  S. and H. and I spent most of our time making nature mobiles.  G. helped us collect acorn tops to add to our  mobiles.  We also used dried ferns, berry clusters, tiny sprays of twigs, and leaves for our creations.

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While I was busy tying knots I heard B. repeating urgently, “Those kids are climbing that tree!” until I finally realized he was either worried about them or thought they shouldn’t be doing it. (or both)

I glanced at the kids in question and nodded, “Yes, they sure are!” and went back to what I was doing.

“OH!” he said then.  He seemed to be thinking that over.  I looked around at him and asked if he was worried about them.  He nodded, “It might fall down!”

So I brought him over to it and, with the support of other kids, I showed him how to tell the difference between a living and a dead tree or branch.  The next time I looked around, he had climbed halfway up the trunk and was blissfully reclined on a spreading branch.

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Meanwhile several of the kids had discovered various methods of exploding cattails into their fluffy seed carriers.  I.B. was gleefully shaking one cattail, making it, “snow,” and watching the white puffs sail off in the wind.  T. showed me how he could press his finger into the cattail and it suddenly looked like a lump of fur had emerged.  Before long a bunch of the kids were having cattail fluff fights and yelling with joy and laughter.  I encouraged them to find a place where the thousands of tiny, clingy seeds would not blow into the hair and clothing of those of us who preferred to be fluff-free.  This makes for a natural lesson in wind direction and how to use the wind to affect one’s activities.

We briefly tried estimating the number of seeds in a cattail…

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C. asked me how high they were allowed to climb in the Tilted Tree.  I explained that she could climb as high as she felt safe and comfortable climbing and pointed out where the branches began to thin as a place the tree might weaken.  Later, after she had climbed high and come back down she and I stood beneath the tree and looked up together as she wondered how high she had been.  We then used my 5 foot (-ish) height to estimate how many feet up she had been.  We do quite a bit of estimating out there in the wild.

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Another blissful session of Woods and Wetlands came to a close as the sun began to set. We returned our orange safety vests to our storage unit and returned to the world of cars and screens.  I always leave hoping that the kids will carry their love and stories of outdoor adventures back home to share with someone else.

T.

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