"In the depth of winter, I finally learned that there was within
me an invincible summer.' (Camus)
We had a wintery week of snow-filled-fun at Nature School. Even before heading to the forest, kids were catching snowflakes on their tongues and making snowballs at the gazebo. We have been lent a small propane fire pit, which together with a spread of fresh cedar boughs on the ground (pause, breathe deeply) has transformed our tipi into the cosiest home base ever.
The kids are so familiar with our routine by now, they gather in the tipi for our opening circle when we arrive followed by sit spot, which they have come to understand as a solo quiet time of observation and contemplation. It was special to hear Leeza talking about her Salamander on the way to her sit spot, and when we gathered together afterwards we all wondered if it had found a new home for the winter, beneath the ground under a blanket of snow in our forest. This is one of the beautiful things about taking children back to the same place repeatedly--they are beginning to develop a relationship with their special places and forest creatures!
A new part of our routine has come to include our new friends, the horses next door! This week it hardly took a whistle before the horses trotted over, they have already learned that we have apples for them.
But before long the kids were ready to head to the climbing tree-- but somehow ended up beyond our climbing tree grove where they discovered a snow laden hill tucked into the farthest corner of the forest... It would seem our wolf cubs have turned into baby otters, sliding down a slippery snow bank! Sometimes feet first, other times head first, or perhaps a little bit of both for a sliding summersault effect. I was laughing and smiling, remembering for myself the pure delight of playing in the snow as a youngster. We noticed that although the kids started out bowling each other over, they slowly worked out how to ask each other to move out of the way (or walk up a different path) so a new person could slide down. At one point the snow was worn right down to the dirt, and the kids took a break from sliding and worked together to fill buckets with fresh snow and pass them down the hill to the "packers" who emptied and patted the new snow onto the worn track... and soon everyone was sliding again.
With the change in the weather, everyone is figuring out the right combinations of jackets/hats/boots mitts and after a few cold days the kids have been noticeably warmer; lots of learning for everyone as mitts and hats go on and off (kids get warm as they play), and everyone starts to take ownership and keep track of their clothing. We know to keep our hair dry with a hood or hat when snow is falling from the sky, and to zip up zippers and keep mitts on our hands or in our pockets/hoods. Warm tea accompanied by familiar songs are a welcome close to our days, before we loaded our sleds, put on our packs, and head home from our nature school adventures.