Muddy Shoes - Story of the Day

February 3, 2018

Hey there Muddy Shoes fans!

What an fun, adventurous day we had here exploring the land! Last night's rain set us up for an active day of tracking, solving mysteries and, of course, getting a little muddy! But first, we started things off this morning by exploring the nature museum while waiting for friends to arrive. We examined the items using most of our senses, and afterwards tried to figure out what some of them were. While examining, we tapped into our child passions and acted out different animal forms as some of use grew antlers, horns and tails!

 Once everyone arrived, we hit the trails in search of the perfect spot for morning circle and snack. We found a nice spot not too far off the beaten path, which was equipped with a balance beam, fire pit and fort. We spent some time exploring our surroundings, while others were inspired to get a fire going. Working together, we searched for dry tinder and kindling, which we eventually found on higher spots off the ground. Ever so gently, the tinder caught and a small flame was born, which we then fed baby sized sticks, working our way up to some grandpa sticks. It was the perfect setting for our snack and morning circle, so we gathered around the warm fire. Feeling inspired by the young calves some of us saw this morning on the drive into the property, we brought our minds together by sharing what kind of mammal (other than human) we would like to be for a day, if given the opportunity. There was a variety of thoughtful answers, including a few who wanted to be dogs so they could play and communicate with their puppies at home! Afterwards we discussed some agreements we follow while at EN, like staying within eyesight of the instructor, treating others and wildlife with respect and kindness, and taking care of ourselves by staying hydrated and being aware of our surroundings. We were then ready for a fun story. Today's tale was about two twin brothers who were born in a valley between two identical mountains. They separated at birth, each determined to climb to the peak of the mountains. One of the twins struggled with the challenges he faced while scaling the mountain... sharp rocks cut up his hands, the river he fell into made him cold, green briar scratched his body and he even broke his leg when climbing a slippery boulder! Even though he hated his journey up the mountain, he struggled through it and when he got to the peak he was a very old man. As he looked at the other identical mountain peak off in the distance, he was shocked to see his twin brother in the same spot! As they shouted to each other, he learned that his twin traveled a similar path, filled with sharp rocks and green briar, cold water and slippery boulders. However, his twin did not hate his journey, in fact he loved it and made the best of every challenge he was given! This was a great reminder that during our lifetime we will each face many challenges, but it's how we react to them that matters. 

After story we were ready to let loose and have fun at this cool spot. We enjoyed walking across the balance beam and cheering others on, while others were content with tending to the fire.Some played in the fort while others searched for items to add to our nature museum. We all enjoyed several rounds of Eagle Eye, a camouflage game, before taking a break for lunch. Afterwards, we were ready to continue our journey and see what else the land had to offer us, so once again we hit the trails. Along the way we were able to find wood sorrel, horse mint, cleavers and chickweed, which we sampled and learned more about. We also found tons of tracks and scat which we would follow in hopes of finding a creature. One of the sets of raccoon tracks we found were surrounded by small bird feathers, which we enjoyed trying to solve the mystery/story of what happened. When we stumbled across a pond, we felt inspired to check it out in hopes of finding more cow tracks and frogs. Though there were many various tracks along the edges of the pond, what we really found was mud and tons of it! We had fun making our own tracks and skating on the mud. We continued on trail and eventually made our way to another base, this time equipped with a primitive group shelter. We had fun rolling around in the shelter that had a thick base of dry leaves. While here we also climbed trees, swang from old grapevines, and even had the opportunity to look at a few animal dens up close! We could hear cows mooing off in the distance and had fun mooing back at them in hopes of a response! 

Eventually the day came to an end and we hiked back to the Osage pavilion for one last sharing circle. On the hike back, we each found one item that was special to us, to add to the nature museum. When back at the pavilion, we circled up and ended our day by sharing our Rose, Thorn and Bud. All in all, we shared tons of laughs and smiles and as usual, got pretty muddy! Looking forward to more adventures next month! :-)

Love, 
Lindsay

December 3, 2017

Hey there Muddy Shoes families! 

We had a fantastic day out here which was full of fun, games, mud and adventures! The foggy drive in made for an interesting setting, and we were excited to check out the nature museum while waiting for friends to arrive. Once all together, we gathered in the playing field for some fun and games. This morning we played Foxtails, a fun version of tag. Each person is given a bandana that they tuck into their pocket and protect while running. If they lose their bandana, they have to sit down but can steal other peoples bandanas as they run by, or may be given an extra bandana from a friend. We enjoyed playing this until we worked up an appetite for a snack. 

We decided to hit the trails and hike to our special base for morning circle and snack. Along the way we stopped to point out hazards like green briar and poison ivy, and even munched on some wild edibles. When we got to our special spot, we immediately felt inspired to get a fire going. So we broke into teams, each group collecting different sized kindling and tinder. After spending some time gathering fuel for our fire, we had a discussion/demonstration on how to safely use matches. Then, some of us carefully took turns trying to strike the match and light the dry grassy tinder. After a couple of tries, we got the hang of it and eventually the match caught! Now, with a warm fire in the background, we were ready to gather for our morning circle. First, we each shared our names, nature names and one thing we were excited to do outside today. Some said they wanted to roast food on the fire, others wanted to play in the creek and jump in the fallen leaves. Then, we covered some ground rules on how to stay safe out here while respecting others and wildlife. For story, I shared a folktale about Anansi the Spider. 

After circle, we were ready to dig in and explore the area. Some were inspired to climb the branchy Juniper trees and build onto a tree fort, while others kept tending to the fire. We also introduced camouflaging and played a game called Eagle Eye. This game is similar to hide and seek with a few differences. The seeker is called the eagle and he/she must stay in their nest at all times (they cannot go looking for others). Therefore the hiders must be able to see the eagle from their hiding spot, making camouflage a key component. We practiced staying still and looking for natural ways to camouflage our bodies while playing this game. Eventually it was time to break for lunch. During this time, some of us found sticks to roast portions of our lunch in the fire! 

 

After lunch, we had another mission on our minds.. This time we wanted to make the biggest leaf pile ever! So we set out looking for a few Y shaped sticks. These happen to make for wonderful natural rakes, so we worked together raking up all the leaves around us. Eventually we had a pile of dried leaves that were almost as tall as us and we took turns jumping in the pile and raking the pile back up for the next person. We probably could have jumped in leaves for hours, but all of a sudden we heard a sound by the dry creek bed below us. We felt inspired to investigate so we carefully slid down the hill to check out the area. Although we did not see any creatures, we found evidence of their tracks caught in the muddy area! In fact, we made a few tracks of our own in the mud, some of our shoes and hands got stuck in the gloppy mess! Working together, we helped pull our friends from the mud and decided to make our way towards the creek to clean up some. 

As we hiked on, we stopped to munch on wild onion and even some cleavers that we also enjoyed sticking on ourselves. Once down by the creek, we noticed more raccoon and squirrel tracks and considered where they were at during this time of day. We also found a yucca leaf, which we used to practice the first stages of making rope! Taking turns, we gently beat on the leaf with a heavy stick, until the hair-like fibers started to separate from the leaf. Other enjoyable activities included making a big mud slide, catching water bugs and skipping rocks. Before we knew it, the day was over and it was time to make our way back up towards the sign out area.

Before departing, I shared one more story about Stalking Wolf and we each shared our Rose of the day. We had so much fun and can't wait to do it again! 

Love, 
Lindsay

April 22 2017

Hello again Muddy Shoes fans!

We had a great day out here celebrating Earth Day and exploring the land. The cold front that blew through earlier left some of us feeling a little cold this morning, so to warm up we headed to the field to play some of our favorite games! We started with Cougar Stalks Deer, taking advantage of the large playing field. When we felt that our sneaking and stalking skills were thoroughly warmed up, we switch games to Run Rabbit Run, which is more like tag. Eventually our bodies grew tired and we began to feel hungry, so we grabbed our backpacks and hit the trail to find a nice spot for our morning circle. On the way to the trail we saw a Great Blue Heron soaring in the sky and stopped to admire its beauty! Once on trail, we were amazed to see all the new growth that has taken place this spring. We stopped along the way to identify wildflowers, and graze on edibles like wood sorrel, green briar and dewberries. After the nice hike we made it to our destination, happy to grab our snacks and gather for morning circle.

With today being Earth Day, we started with a discussion of what that means and how we can personally help our planet. Then we brought our minds together by eaching sharing what we love most about our earth. Some said they loved the plants and flowers most, while others seemed to be most grateful for earth's diverse ecosystems like rainforests and mountains. Afterwards, we switched our focus to hazards and agreements. We were able to get a closer look at some nearby poison ivy, drawing attention to the number of leaves and leaf shape and also discussed areas that it likes to grow. After setting some safety agreements it was finally time for story. For today's story, I shared the tale of the Three Little Javelinas, by Susan Lowell. Much like the three little pigs, these javelinas had to avoid a sneaky coyote. Their safety was compromised when their tumbleweed and stick houses blew down, but they eventually found safety in a home made of adobe bricks!

After circle, some were feeling inspired to search the area for more dewberries, a tasty spring treat! We definitely found some, along with a fruiting mexican plum tree (unfortunately the plums are not ready!), but decided to take a dewberry hike to see what else we could collect. On the trail, we stopped to check out spittlebugs and butterflies before finding a HUGE patch of dewberries. We decided to collect the berries to try and make a jelly. In no time we filled a bowl with dewberries and headed back to our home base. In order to make a jelly we needed fire, so we prepared for our next challenge, a fire challenge! We carefully stripped some cedar bark into fluffy tinder balls for the base of our fire. Next we build a log cabin around the tinder, making sure to collect dry wood. We reminded ourselves that 'higher is drier' and to 'snap it or scrap it'. We did such a good job building the fire that one match was all we needed today! In no time the fire was blazing and we gathered around to enjoy our lunch by it.

After lunch, we refocused on our dewberry jelly. We rinsed the berries and put them in a camping pot, which we placed on the coals of the fire. In no time the berries started to release their juices, and we took turns stirring and smooshing the purple dewberries. Next we added a touch of honey to balance out the tartness and let the mixture simmer. Finally we added a small amount of fruit pectin, which gives us that jelly consistency. We ended up with a good sample of the jelly and enjoyed it with any leftover snacks and lunch. By now we were ready for some muddy fun, so we headed down to the small creek below our home base. Down there, we enjoyed making sand castles and mud creatures, and even saw some wildlife tracks! Taking a closer look at them, we decided that some deer and raccoons had been by the creek. We played down here awhile, making sure that we were plenty muddy! Too soon though, our afternoon came to an end and it was time to head back. Before departing, we played a new game, Eagle Eye. This game is similar to hide and seek, but requires the hiders to see the stationary eagle (the one looking for the hiders), making it more of a game of camouflage. 

Before getting picked up we enjoyed some last minute edibles like wood sorrel, and continued searching for hairy caterpillars. We had so much fun and can't wait to do it again!

Love, 
Lindsay

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