My travel down this MooseBoots path has accelerated a bit with the addition of this weekly class. The nice part is that, while we may cover similar material to that in the monthly Outdoors Skills Class, having a different teacher with a different perspective tends to fill in gaps that I was completely unaware of. Of course, there is the added benefit of practicing these skills/abilities more often. This week, in lieu of going into the woods, we went to the beach for some work on tracking.
I will admit that I was very excited about this class. I have been creeping forward in developing this particular talent. And, the beach is an incredible place for working on tracks. We started by talking about the ways animals move and trying to imitate them. So, as rabbits, we bounded over the sand. As cats, we stalked across the sand. And, as raccoons, we waddled forward leaving behind our tracks. I became apparent to me that I had obviously been trying to learn this the wrong way previously. I had been trying to learn it from Tom Brown's Field Guide To Nature Observation and Tracking, a very well written and enlightening book, which I highly recommend spending some time with. Sometimes you have to act and move to really learn something. The play brought home the essence of each animal and its tracks.
The kids, being kids at the beach, had a really difficult time concentrating on the lessons at hand. So, we played a game ... otter tag. We divided into two teams, each wit a "head" and a "tail". All other team members followed the head linked together. The object was to get the other otter's tail, a bandanna placed into the last person's pocket.
After a few rounds, we got back to "work". We played a game called track the porcupine. As coyotes, we were really hungry and needed to track and find the porcupine, a log with nails sticking out of it that was dragged around the beach and hidden. This was better received as we had to bay our way running down dinner.
Afterwards, we played a few other awareness games ... Bat and Moth, a nature based version of Marco Polo played in a circle in the sand, and Mother Moose, a sort of inverted Monkey in the Middle game where the group tried to steal the baby moose from the guardian mother moose (anyone tagged forces the group players to move out of the circle and begin again).
Then, we went on a bird hunt. We all stalked, fox walked, very quietly to see if we could find birds in the bushes. There were tracks everywhere, but no birds. Perhaps, we were not so quiet when we were 10 feet away before we started to "hunt". We hunted for quite a while, but eventually the kids gave up. In stead we worked on baiting the birds. We sat quietly and tossed bread to the seagulls to see how close we could entice them to come. When the bread was gone, we all got up and chased the birds, some of who were clever enough to skirt us and get the remaining bread crumbs.
Finally, we ended with story telling. Each kid told a story about the piece of treasure he/she had gathered on the beach. I had a story in mind, but was not prepared to tell it. I have been researching Algonquin legends with the intent of telling them to my kids by the fire side.
It was a fantastic time. I was able, in spite of last minute work pressure, to relax and enjoy the opportunity. My MooseBoots path, as I have said, has become clearer and attendance at these classes with Wendy and the girls is far more important to my future than work is. I did return to work afterwards to finish anything that needed finishing. I do not know exactly what the future holds, but whatever it is it will certainly be on my terms.