Weeks 10 + 11 | Fox Walkers at Whatcom | What A Difference A Week Makes

It is truly amazing what a difference a week can make in the Pacific NW!  I apologize for not getting the blog out last week, I think my hands were still wet!   It may be hard to remember after all of the blinding sunshine this past week, but last week it was super rainy and super cold, hovering right above freezing for most of the week! 

Our Friday at Whatcom that week was no exception — luckily for us Whatcom Falls Park has a couple of amazing open shelters and some fire pits to work with so we were able to start with relative dryness.  Most of the kids stashed their backpacks under cover and went out to the rain to play a fun running game!  After that we worked on some friction fire prep inside the shelter. Nothing like scraping cedar bark for tinder or practicing using a bow drill to get your body heat up on a cold day!  The kids were super into this and scraped a very large softball sized bundle of light, fluffy inner cedar bark.  This will make an amazing tinder bundle one day soon when we will make a friction fire with the kids and blow a little coal to flames!

We had such a fun day out there with the Fox Walkers - when the kids are dressed for the elements and are excited to be there, there is really no limit to their resilience! We went on an adventure to a new corner of the park and found some old shelters and lots of AMAZING mushrooms growing everywhere — some favorites were the wood-like Red-belted Polypore and the slimy bright orange jelly fungus sometime called Witch’s Butter.  On the way were were quiet and lucky enough to watch a mama deer and her yearling munching on breakfast… We even watch Mama eat some Cedar fronds and later found her teeth marks on the fronds! So cool!

The kids learned a new way to Heart Home that takes us through the homes of many critters including Woodpecker, Deer and Rabbit.  They are starting to regain confidence on our off trail explorations which is really heartening to see.

We went home muddy, wet, cold and with hearts full of joy!

This past week could not have been any different weather wise!  It was very cold and frosty but with a super bright sun and clear skies.  The sun makes such a difference on these cold mornings.  We made a big warm fire to greet the kids and a few said they could find us from the smoke as soon as they got out of the car.   There was more friction fire practice and some roasting of apples over the hot coals for a morning snack.  Some kids went out and collected Rose hips and Douglas Fir needles for warm Forest Tea.  Our awesome intern Skye led a round of a Plant Memory game, where kids see an array of plants for a few seconds, then those plants are rearranged while they're not looking.   Afterwards they point out what changed about the plant arrangement.  Not only is this fun and gets kids moving, it is a great way to sneak some real plant awareness in there.

We heard an amazing story about Moon Bird and Running Deer being very hungry one winter and hunting a Rabbit with a Throwing stick.  The key part of the story was the importance of giving thanks for all of our food whether it comes from a plant or from an animal.    This inspired us to follow a deer/rabbit trail and practice moving slow and stalking with our Fox Feet (or as Jesse says, “Drop on those Fox Feet!”)  The Fox Walkers like to practice this with our semi-tame avian friends at the pond. 

Too many highlights to name them all, but we had a post-fire charcoal art session, there was some great tracking in the mud around the pond (Raccoon, Deer and Muskrat or Beaver) some “fishing” and the making of one tiny quick bow and arrow. The group was stoked on the bow and arrow so we will have to play with that more throughout the year! Oh and we found a huge owl pellet right at the end! We will dissect it next week and see what our Owl friend was eating.

This is such a fun crew and we only have one more week in 2017! Then 3 weeks off and back at it Jan 12th at Whatcom. Some spaces remain in Fox Walkers, if you know of anyone interested in joining, have them contact us or enroll today before we are all filled up! 

Thanks and enjoy that sunshine…