As Summer winds down and the school year kicks off again, us modern-day humans often find ourselves naturally shifting away from the quintessential outdoor-oriented lifestyle that the warmer months bring here in the PNW. Days filled with hiking, camping, and swimming subside as cooler days and nights transition us into a more domesticated, indoor-centered existence. Wetter weather, fewer hours of day light, and less free time in general often deters folks from pursuing as many outdoor adventures with friends and family.
Less outdoor adventure-time often translates to fewer nature connection experiences overall. But what if we could shift away from that tendency? What if we didn't have travel to connect with the natural world? How might we create opportunities for nature-immersion experiences right in our own urban or suburban back yard?
Wild Plants often stop me in my tracks. On a typical wander through the forest, I usually take my precious time to pause along the trail and examine the plant life. I take a mental inventory of the various species that I encounter, often pondering their ethnobotanical applications and imagining how each plant may have traditionally been used to satisfy the basic survival needs of food, medicine, and fiber back when folks lived a lot closer to the earth. Sometimes it takes me forever just to make my way a few short yards down the trail, since I stop to look at plants so often. What can I say. . . I’m a plant dork, and I’m not afraid to admit it.
The other day as Pat and I were slowly hiking through Stimpson Family Nature Reserve, nibbling on Blackcap Raspberries and Trailing Blackberries along the way, a conspicuous plant stopped us in our tracks yet again. As it caught my eye, my mind suddenly flashed back to the very first time I stumbled upon this species, many years ago when I was a new student at Wilderness Awareness School. With great curiosity I pointed out my new discovery to a fellow classmate at the time, who quickly identified the plant as Red Baneberry (Actaea rubra). He informed me that eating Baneberries might be the “bane” of one’s existence, as the entire plant is highly poisonous and can cause nervous system damage and possibly death.
Ripe Red Huckleberries, Trailing Blackberries, Himalayan Blackberries, Blackcap Raspberries, and Thimbleberries are exploding amongst the forest and fields these days, and our summer camp students just can’t get enough of their sweet and tart deliciousness! A couple of weeks ago we challenged some Earth Scouts to a mission: collect as many ripe wild edible berries as possible, and we’ll whip up a batch of Wild Berry Ice Cream! They happily accepted the challenge and foraged a ton of berries over at a favorite spot that we like to call "Huckleberry Hill".
In the spirit of Salmonberry season, I'm feeling called to share a special recipe. What makes this recipe so special is that not only is it delicious, seasonal, and nutritious, but it also is always made with love by someone near and dear to our hearts: Mama Fallon!
Every time we visit Patrick’s family in New Jersey, his mama Cathy greets us with a freshly made berry “buckle” (also known as a crisp or a crumble), and I gotta say, it’s one of our all-time favorite desserts!
We had a great week at Fairhaven this week with the Fox Walkers on our 2-day program. Our theme this week was “Owl Eyes” and we heard a great story and saw a puppet show about a game that Moon Bird and Running Deer like to play called “How’d you do that?”...
Sunshine was abundant last Friday as we gathered with our Fox Walkers class at Whatcom Falls Park. The large Big Leaf Maple that we generally meet under in the morning provided us with abundant entertainment in the form of fallen leaves. We spent a good amount of time gathering the leaves and creating the biggest leaf pile ever, jumping in the pile, and playing an epic game of "Leaf Monster"!
Rainy skies surprised us on our first day of Fox Walkers Forest Kindergarten at Whatcom Falls Park this past Friday! Though the wet weather was a bit of a shock to us all, once the children got geared up in waterproof clothing we were ready to settle into our day together. . .
Hazy skies and a bit of ash from distant wildfires greeted us on our very first day of Fox Walkers Forest Kindergarten for the 2017-18 school year. Luckily our Tuesday/Thursday class truly enjoyed getting to know each other and the forest at Fairhaven Park, despite the unsavory air quality!
Just wanted to drop a quick note about this week's camp... We had a blast climbing trees, making fishing poles, playing running and hiding games, building shelters, breaking sticks, imitating animals, laughing, telling stories, listening to bird voices, slowing our breathing, increasing our heart rates, exploring the creek bed, and generally gelling as a group and enjoying the beautiful summer days out at Lake Padden!