This past week at Feather and Frond we were prepping for bitter cold and soaking wet weather. Melissa and I got there early and had a fire going and tarps ready in case we needed to go into damage control. Somehow though the weather spirits were kind to us and we were once again treated to a beautiful cool fall morning!
Being the time of year that most deciduous trees have dropped their leaves, our focus tends to turn towards those majestic conifers that grow so abundantly here in Cascadia. With that in mind we have taken to making wreaths out of forest materials. First we take a bendy Cedar branch and twist in into a sturdy hoop. It is important to ensure the hoop is stable as this forms the base of the wreath’s shape. Then using a little bit of floral wire, we affix fronds of Cedar, Hemlock, Doug Fir, Salal, Oregon Grape and any other hearty plants that will not deteriorate too quickly. We have found that using smaller cuts, radiating out from the center make a fuller and cleaner looking wreath in the end.
In the early morning, Melissa and a few of the Mommas worked on their wreaths while I went off with the kids to look for some growing things to add to our “forest tea”. It became apparent very early that the children were much more interested in going on a mini adventure and moving their bodies then collecting tea items on this cold morning. Following the excited boys, we slid down a muddy hillside, crawled through blackberry bushes underneath of Fir trees and Cedar and found ourselves down by the rushing waters of Padden Creek. It was clear would would need to come back there later in the day after we had our opening circle. We collected some fir and spruce tips, cedar fronds and blackberry leaves for our tea and one of the boys led us back to our meeting place.
After greeting the rest of our crew we circled up to share some gratitude and bring our minds and bodies together through song and movement, we packed up the tea in an insulated growler and hit the trail! We let the kids who had already visited the creek lead us down the muddy hill and through the bushes - with just a little bit of hiding happening along the way. While keeping safe boundaries around safety this was a natural time to let the children lead some emergent curriculum on the banks of the creek. Knowing there were Salmonoids in the creek, a few children wanted to “practice fishing” with some fallen red alder branches, Some wanted to throw items into the rushing waters and watch them be carried away. Others found an small inflow and engaged in the age old child’s passion of building dams only to later know them down and free the water! At some point almost everyone helped on the dam and almost everyone played a little bit of Pooh Sticks. (Pooh Sticks is the timeless game where you drop something in the water at one end of a culvert or bridge and run to the other side to see it emerge in the flow).
Padden Creek was really rushing and looking clean and beautiful. It seems to be flowing nicely after the massive daylighting project that the City of Bellingham completed last year. Since about 1892, just upstream of Fairhaven Park, the creek was diverted into a brick tunnel. This was originally done to drains the surrounding wetlands to make way for the Great Pacific Railroad. The shadow side of this was it blocked fish including Salmon species from swimming past the tunnel and therefore severely limiting habitat and also putting homes at risk of flooding.
Thankfully our city decided few years ago to divert a massive amount of funding (almost $10 million) toward this and 2 other major projects on Padden Creek. Not only does this open up a lot of critical fish habitat. (according to the COB, “Padden Creek hosts a diversity of resident fish that live in the creek year-round such as sculpin, three-spine stickleback and cutthroat trout. Padden Creek also hosts a number of anadromous fish species that migrate from marine water into freshwater to spawn including pink salmon, Chinook salmon, chum salmon, coho salmon, steelhead trout, sea-run cutthroat trout, and Pacific lamprey. Both steelhead trout and Chinook salmon are threatened species that are protected under the Endangered Species Act.” )
On the banks above the newly planted creek bed are numerous Native Plants to help the health of Padden Creek even more. The plants help to keep pollution out of the stream, reduce erosion, shade and cool the creek waters and attract wildlife beneficial to a thriving ecosystem! It really is an awesome project and I will be excited to watch the progress of the Salmon as they move back into their historical habitat. Coho and Chinook Salmon are some of the stronger swimming salmonoids and they have been observed upstream of the new stream channel but have not yet been observed spawning up there. Hoping it is just a matter of time!
After lunch and tea time, we played a few games (Run Rabbit Run has to be the most requested game as of late!) and realized that we were plumb out of time! This shortened nature of Deer and Fawn Days always seems to just fly by…
We are excited to see some more of you out in the new year! The next Deer and Fawn Day is Friday January 6th at Fairhaven Park.
For those of you parents that are ready to have a few hours to yourselves, we are currently ENROLLING for our Forest Kindergarten Winter Session! This is a drop-off program that runs on Thursdays in Fairhaven Park from January 5th - March 9th. More information can be found here or go straight to our Enrollment Form if you are ready to sign up!