Thursday, September 26, 2013

Game with Friday Field School

The frantic energy of squirrels in the fall

While out on a wander a few weeks ago, my Guild noticed a well-worn trail. We got into tracking mode and looked for any signs we could to determine what species used the trail. We found a spot with fresh urine marking it (smelled like sweet pine needles, indicating it's an herbivore). We followed the trail uphill and found an trance to a burrow. We speculated about who lived in it and looked for hairs around the entrance and fresh footprints. The entrance had exposed sand so we thought it might be active. We guessed woodchuck.

Raccoons investigating our game cam!

Not surprisingly, during the day most of our videos were of squirrels. One of the coolest parts of the squirrel videos was watching them bury red oak acorns and bitternut hickory seeds. They then pad up the ground to hide their tracks. During the night we got lots of videos of raccoons (above) and a bunch of skunks. The squirrels seemed to avoid the trail, while the skunk and raccoons (there are at least 2 raccoons) stayed along the trail pretty faithfully. We'll be setting the game cam again this week and this time baiting it to see what changes we can observe. 

Skunk caught on the game cam

Monday, September 16, 2013

Second week

The finished fire circle
The weather seemed extra fidgety last week, with temperatures soaring into the high 80s, epic thunderstorms, and lots of rain. This time of year summer always seems to try a little extra hard to hold its grip. But as the apples begin to fall we know winter is rapidly approach. 

The weather didn't dampen the high spirits this week. One of my highlights was an impromptu clean-up session on Tuesday. Cooper wanted to get a fire started at our lunch spot so we wound up cleaning up the fire pit behind Chuck's house (Chuck is the property manager).

When we started, the fire pit was barely visible - overgrown with jewelweed, golden rod, and grasses. The kids grabbed rakes, clippers, and pruners and got to work making the space look immaculate. We fixed up the benches, got a fire going, and had our closing circle at our new fire ring. It was beautiful to watch the progress. At one point one of the other kids came over and asked, "Why are you doing chores?" to which Hazel responded: "They're not chores if you're having fun!"

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

First week back at the field school!

The Crow's Path field school has finally begun its Fall session, and it has been a whirlwind of excitement!  We now have three full days of field school and it has been exciting to see so many new faces along with all our old friends.  We spent this first week getting ourselves oriented to the land and getting a taste of Rock Point.  For some of us it was the first time exploring this landscape and for others it was a refreshing reminder of the beauty and wildness that this land holds for us to explore all year.  We created a scavenger hunt that led each group to different areas of Rock Point, with creative clues such as, "Lauren lost her song blouse, so she asked the strong mouse, who took her to the wrong grouse, who then directed them to the.... (long house)!"  But it didn't take very long before the magnetic pull of Lake Champlain drew us to its waters, and mud fights soon ensued.
Mud-Monster Miles found a pit of deliciously goopy wet clay and was immediately spreading the joy of mud fights on a summer day with anybody he could find.  

I think part of the appeal of mud fights on these sunny days is our ability to jump right back in the lake and watch a trail of mud spread from our bodies underwater.  After one of the best mud fights in recent memory Cody was ready to jump in the lake and wash off before it's time to go home.
New friends share in the joy of pure clay on a sunny day!
And of course, it wouldn't be a day on the beach at Crow's Path if we didn't build at least one flaming birch bark boat.  I was trying to get the soon-to-be-flaming "sail" to stick into the ship when Matt and Isaac had the great idea of using the nearby clay to hold it secure.  It worked perfectly and the boat had a long flaming journey out into the lake.  
When we weren't enjoying these last days of summer down by the water some of us were sipping on sumac-aide, exploring sea caves, smelling sweet fern, eating blackberries, identifying poison ivy, playing camouflage, gathering acorns, singing songs, or creating fires.  
We had such a great time being back out on the land with so many new and old faces and it is sure to be another amazing session at Crow's Path.  It's so amazing to watch the Crow's Path community grow and we're bubbling over with excitement at what this season holds for us!