Last Friday we wrapped up our Tree ID curriculum block with an exploration of Cottonwood, the tree whose heart-shaped leaves inspired the name of our shelter, Heart Home!
Our story was about a little star, a Cottonwood tree, and a village. The little star loved to shine in the sky and listen to the beautiful sounds of the people in the the village as they played, laughed, sang songs, and told stories around the fire. The little star wanted to stay and listen to the village all the time, so when the Cottonwood tree near the village offered the star a place to live inside of its branches, the star happily took the tree up on its offer. The little star and the Cottonwood tree showed the people of the village how much they loved them by showering them with snow-like cotton-y fluff in the spring, offering them heart-shaped golden leaves in the fall, and sharing medicinal tree buds with them in the late winter. To this day you can still find the shape of a star in the cross-section of a Cottonwood tree branch!
We spent some time on Friday making an anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving salve using oil that’s been infused with the resin from the buds of the Cottonwood tree. This resin contains salicin, a compound that has been proven to reduce inflammation and ease pain. Think of it as “nature’s aspirin”. It’s also traditionally know as “Balm of Gilead”. The Fox Walkers got a chance to help mix the oil with melted beeswax and Douglas Fir pitch and then pour it into containers. We hope you and your family enjoy using this Forest Balm to treat achy sore muscles, bruises, scrapes, burns, skin irritations, etc. It makes a wonderful addition to a first-aid kit!
Some other highlights of our adventures together on Friday included: playing an epic game of Log Tag, getting stuck in some major mud monsters, closely and quietly observing a Hairy Woodpecker pecking for grubs in a rotten tree, visiting the pond where we saw a male Common Merganser practicing an impressive courtship display, and being fooled by a Great Blue Heron who appeared to be an Owl in the distance!