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A Sneaking Mission and an Inedible Discovery


Another beautiful day spent in the forest! After morning circle, we got right to business at our campsite. Groups of Wooly Bears self-organized into large stick finders/movers, debris gatherers, and fire makers. On predominantly their own initiative, we had significantly added to our shelter and made a successful fire after only 15 minutes. We had snack around the fire and acknowledged how nice it was to be back together in the forest, listening to the sounds of nature, noticing the steady breeze from the northeast, and feeling thankful for warm fire.

We were excited to get on our with mission to sneak up on the FORESTers (the older homeschool group) but talked group strategy first: what sounds to make to gather the group's attention but not give us away, hand signals that everyone could understand, and a plan for splitting up if it made sense. Everyone had ideas and listened well to each other. Before we camouflaged our skin and practicing stealthy "fox walking," we went on a search for some green pine needles. Along with noting the health effects of the nutritious, warm drink, Dan proposed that perhaps we could become more attuned to the calm stillness and quiet of the forest if we drank tea made from our surroundings. In perfect alignment with learning about a nutritious, safe substance, one Wooly Bear found a Jack in the Pulpit plant and showed the group. Its cluster of red berries stand out this time of year and look like something that would taste good. However, definitely not edible! The plant contains oxalate crystals which produce a powerful burning sensation when ingested. We always emphasize that, even though we do eat and drink some things from the woods, there are plenty of things here that can make you sick so we have to be very careful. There's a great Seneca story involving Fox and Raccoon and a Jack in the Pulpit that was sold as a "magic pawpaw" and eventually eaten by Fox, who paid the price dearly!

We sipped our warm pine tea while hearing the story and then practiced fox walking, hand signals, and discussed strategy one last time before beginning our stealth mission. On our way to the FORESTers, we surprisingly encounter a group of them who seemed to be sneaking up on us! We busted them and they busted us (which was a synchronicity of a similar event from the Fox story) but we were in luck because half the FOREST group was still far away and had no idea we were coming. We were able to get within 20 feet of them without being seen, with our group carefully deciding where to go and when to crouch down, and enjoying the enchantment of moving as quietly and invisibly as possible though the landscape. Then we started to make funny animal sounds and ran down the hill to the group! They showed us some of their archery skills and we thanked them for that. 

We joyfully headed back to our site for lunch, relieved that we could run and talk as loudly as we wanted! Emma told an Anansi story around the lunch fire, and we had just enough time for some more shelter building and a couple of rounds of "owl and chipmunk" Hide and Seek. After many unsuccessful attempts from owl to find the stealthy chipmunks, we circled up for our Story of the Day. Some of the favorite parts of their days were sneaking up on the older kids, drinking the tea, seeing the snapping turtle, and finding a fuzzy caterpillar. See you next week!

—Dan and Emma, September 28, 2016