All Aboard! Chuga chuga chuga (bouncy bounce bounce). I didn’t know until this week that there is a train and a train station in our forest. Just West on the path beyond the tipi, there is a huge cedar with outstretched boughs that make a natural shelter, and tucked in behind it is a young tree with a climbable trunk and one strong limb that leans outward— the main car of the passenger train! The children involved everyone who came around with their imaginative play; there were ticket takers, train drivers, passengers, and even people to take your luggage (ie. sticks, bark chunks and pinecones). This kind of collaborative play between new mixes of kids who don’t usually choose to play together is happening more often these days, and the new chemistry creates new games and fresh ways of playing in the forest.
One such new game is “temple”; the kids have drawn maps or pretend that their rolls of birch bark are maps to secret locations in the forest. There are two special locations that are temples; the “monkey temple” is under a coniferous tree near the gate, and the “lion temple” is a place that deer have been sleeping in a clearing among thick brush near the leaning tree on the way to the sliding hill. The children played this game for a long time on both days, including hiding and collecting treasure (wood & bark) that represented diamonds and gemstones. Emmett has actually been pretending to be a monkey all week, guardian of the monkey temple, and stays in character pretty much the whole time. Hilarious!
Trees seem to be the funnest frontier in the forest these days, and we’ve noticed that pretty much all the kids, even those who haven’t climbed much before, are trying out their monkey skills… feeling their strength, swinging from branch to branch, practicing dropping down and climbing up to do it all over again!
Another observation has been the detailed creativity and possibility that kids are seeing in objects or events, such as the “baby goose” that Sylas had— a funny shaped piece of wood, and he carefully pointed out all the parts of it’s anatomy to Kristina and I and carefully carried it around that day. Another example is the spear and sharpening stone that hunter Marcus had, or the tiger lurking in the bushes and the elaborate trap and ensuing story of its capture that Pippa told. Another wonderful discovery was Evan beating the dead branches of a tree above him with two sticks, and saying “Listen! It’s a drum!” as he made music in his marimba tree.
We have often been sharing a book with the kids too. This week they enjoyed a silly bird book with lots of chances to hop, stretch, run, fall over and fly, and a science themed kids book exploring the question “Does the Sun Go To Sleep?” The kids love to be silly and just as equally love to soak up new ideas about the natural world (ie, sun, moon, stars).
Our wolf cubs have been feeling such deep connection to many of their forest treasures that they have been wanting to take them home. This has led to much group discussion about the subject of what stays and what can leave, and settling on an agreement that they could take a stick if it would fit into their backpack, rather than armfuls of long sticks and pieces of bark! And hopefully all snails, worms and bugs have remained in their natural habitat… but it couldn’t hurt to check your kids backpack.