Watching Squirrels play tree tag
Cooking Up Famous Moose Stew
Running like the wind
And discovering porcupine poo!
These are a few of our favourite things
We love about Nature School
Can you remember the endless excitement of a childhood game of forest hide and seek? In this case, the joy of being found more thrilling than hiding. And now, the game is diverted momentarily by the discovery of a giant ant hill and the ensuing cascade of questions — where are the ants? Are they sleeping? When will they wake up?
Meanwhile, at Nature School some children are mining for gold and snow diamonds in the crispy crunchy snow while another is engaged in an imaginary world where he is riding the mine elevator. Eyes sparkle with excitement as a child recognizes the familiar song of a chickadee in a nearby branch, or catches a glimpse of the flitting fluffy tail of a squirrel in a tree just steps away. Other children lie sprawled about with clipboards in hand, thoughtfully drawing maps of the forest and calling out for help on how to spell words like tipi, snowbank, and sliding hill.
Don’t be misled, there are trying moments too. For instance, when the only stick someone wants is the stick that the other kid has, and no amount of yelling or whining or crying is helping and none of the other 134,766,000 sticks in the forest will do. (Wait 20 minutes; “Hey, you can have my stick now!” Big smile.). Or the sad realization that someone has just destroyed the thing you spent the last hour building, and the opportunity to use our words to express emotions and communicate boundaries on de-constructing other people’s projects. Then there’s the child who is completely enveloped in a grand imaginary play scheme involving ropes and sticks and the other child who doesn’t want to do anything else but dismantle it, resulting in a hysteria of heightened emotions and pre-school irrationality. Yet somehow these moments resolve themselves, and there are enough sticks and pieces of rope and creativity to lead us back to a happy, engaged place…
Like lying on the snow with heads resting on a log, watching the squirrels run from branch to branch overhead, stopping for only a moment to chit, chatter and scold before taking up the chase once more. Or noticing the beautiful ice-stars sparkling on the bench we are sitting on, and wonder if a snow fairy had left them there the night before.
My favourite memory of the week was watching the kids running as fast as their crazy moose legs could take them down a snowy hillside, sometimes crashing down in a forgiving blanket of snow, other times making it all the way to the bend in the path just beyond the grove of trees. Cheeks red like apples and breathing hard through ear to ear smiles, a pack of wolf-cubs clambering to the top of the hill to do it all over again. Yes, this is the good life.