Mud Season Arrives

posted in: Nature Immersion

We enjoyed a bright, warm day at Reeds Brook this week.

During arrival we played Towhee, a game that challenges us to sneak up on a mother bird who is protecting her egg from predation, and freeze whenever she stops singing to look our way. Inevitably people make mad dashes, having to freeze in awkward positions, fall over, dive and roll around. It’s a great game for all ages to become involved and active. We are trying to steal the Towhee’s egg and hide it while the whole group tries to get away. This game teaches teamwork, body control, and stealth, as well as bird behavior and bird song. We love the Cornell Lab for learning about birds like the Eastern Towhee!

During our second meeting of the spring session, many of our daily routines fell into place. Children who were with us in the fall are remembering the way we do things, and new friends are getting comfortable learning our songs and ways. After arrival, we come into a circle singing a song “Welcome in” letting everyone know it’s time to gather. Songs help create routines and provide gentle structure to our transitions.

We then sang bird of the day! Today it was the Pileated Woodpecker, the largest woodpecker who calls in the forest like a pterodactyl, a beautiful, powerful bird who is black and white with a bright red crest. We talked all about behavior and insect food and the holes in the trees and the signs to look for in the forest. Then, we grabbed our bags and traveled over the stream and into the woods.

Bird of the day is coming your way x4

Went down to the river
There’s a kingfisher

Hop up to the field
A harrier reels

Went into the forest
Jays in a chorus

Go down to the sea
The seagulls like me

As soon as we arrived, most of the group was ready to go exploring! Birch and Juniper stayed and made queenly golden grass garlands with Caitlin H and Moriah, while everyone else asked Caitlin T and Jason to explore the stream with them.

Reeds Brook transformed from icy clear waters to a brown and murky rushing little stream. Our group loves to explore by walking on the ice sheets and submerging in the water, and on a 60 degree day with warm sun the conditions were just right for this type of exploration. They found a giant floating ice floe and broke it free from the banks allowing sliding, jumping and riding the giant ice raft. The stream in most places is less than a foot deep which is perfect for learning about water ecosystems. At one point, five students managed to balance together on the raft!

We dried off and changed clothes in the hot sun by an apple-wood fire. There is plenty of dead wood around our campsite and we’ve been learning how different things burn and what fire likes to eat. The four year old crew got very excited about using clippers to cut the invasive multi-flora rose stalks and create new places for everyone to sit and relax around the fire. After resting and having lunch, again we ventured to the field, and this time mud was the main attraction.

Digging, mixing with water, slapping together mud balls, and finding ways to use them occupied everyone for a long time. Eventually the team coalesced around building a stone wall with mud for mortar. It was an impressive work! At one point we saw Levi untwine an invasive vine from a young sapling and use it as a rope, practicing various knots.

We all marveled at how everyone naturally responded to the melt water stream, the thawing mud, the changing conditions and warming of spring. It is inspiring to see how creative and ingenious and fun everyone can be when allowed to play in the natural world with minimal yet effective guidance and supervision.

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