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Vole Tunnels, a Snow Shelter, and a River Expedition

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The snow was our friend today at the Meetinghouse Farm program! We started out our day with a real-life bear tracking story and talk of other spring happenings. We wondered together as to what other amazing things are unfolding around us during this very special time of year when life begins to burst forth after a long winter. 
 
We stomped out a giant compass wheel in the snow to delineate our Vole Tunnels for a morning game and placed "scats" (crusty snow chunks) in our latrine at the center tunnel crossing (just where we would if we were Voles). As we were all being chased by a Weasel around the compass, we had to grab the snow chunks and place them in the eight directions to achieve safety. This was a fun way to reinforce our orienting skills and get our day started.
 
As the sun warmed us in the field, the students heard a story about building snow shelters. As we wrapped up snack, they were chomping at the bit to build one of their own. The goal: Make a gigantic pile of snow taller than Kevin that we could hollow out, and make it big enough for us all to get inside! This we call the quinzee hut. The word is of Athabaskan origin and describes an igloo-shaped snow shelter that is made by excavating a domed pile of snow. They are super functional, and fun to make! We went over some methods for keeping the walls a uniform thickness and talked about safety. 
 
They went at it with all they had! There was a considerable amount of snow block carving. These went towards an attempt at building a very small igloo. Unfortunately, the sun warmed things so much that in addition to making us take off most of our layers, the blocks became slushy!
 
We finished our quinzee! We all fit inside and it was cozy and warm. Later, we trekked across the field to the Hoosic River for some exploration and fun. We kept an eye out for tracks, animals, arrowheads, bugs: anything to rack up some Nature Points! We spooked a rabbit, flushed some Mallards, stalked up to some Canada Geese, found Raven tracks, and even waded the river barefoot in order to keep our boots dry! 
 
See you all next week!
 
—Josh and Kevin