Tag Archive: Woods walks


 

My daughter and grandsons on our Christmas woodswalk..a tradition

Follow the Leader:    My daughter and grandsons on our Christmas woods walk..a  family tradition!

Isn’t it wonderful that many libraries have a shelf in the entrance hall with books for free or a small donation (.50 to $1.00) for the library fund? Treasures are often found there, a brilliant way to recycle books and wisdom.

Recently, dropping “overdues” at the library, I found in the hallway a gem of a book entitled “Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder” by Richard Louv…an absolutely wonderful inspirational guide to unplugging  from technology and taking our children (and ourselves) outside to reconnect with nature, especially “the woods”. Although it is not a new book, it was the recipient of the 2008 Audobon medal and is probably even more relevant and urgent today than when it was published.

Last child (2)

This book did not suddenly “wake me up” to a new idea for a thing to do with children and specifically, MY grandchildren. I had just returned from a Christmas Day visit to my daughter and her family in a nearby state. Following our family tradition to take a nature walk during the day of a visit, we  had driven to Sedgewick Gardens/Longhill  in Beverly Massachusetts and hiked through the winter woods blanketed with dried crackly leaves, fallen twigs and branches and climbing over old logs lying prone on the ground. We have always taken these walks in nature whenever my daughters and their children come for visits or I go to visit them…sometimes to the woods, sometimes to the ocean, and often to hang out at farms, parks or garden centers. And we always had taken these walks as a family when my daughters were growing up.

On this particular chilly afternoon, the boys were full of little boy energy…jumping, running, losing a sneaker in the leaves… and even accidentally stepping in some hidden doggie poo, a true and pungent experience of nature! I had given the boys a clear quart-sized baggie and some tweezers so we could collect nature treasures to bring home. (The magnifying lens I had ordered for close-up inspections unfortunately had not arrived in time.) But we did collect special odd stones, dried leaves with but a hint of orange, strange twigs, pieces of dried tree moss…and even a bug. The woods were filled with strangely shaped trees “with no clothes on” during the cold season and the colors around us were mostly brown, black and gray. Going out on that Christmas day with no snow was a very different experience than when we walk on Easter or in May. A walk full of crackling, snapping dried sounds, and pungent scents of decay and earthiness.

I recall now a quote from the  book The Last Child in the Woods:

“I like to play indoors better ’cause that’s where all the electrical outlets are”  ~ a fourth grader in San Diego

I admit that my own grandsons living in this culture know where all the electrical outlets in their house are as well and there is a constant challenge to balance monitored technology time and offline projects time. One cannot escape it and it is a challenge in just about ALL households these days.

But I am so happy and proud of my daughters and the attention they give to nature time …. in our family picture albums are so many photos of a  Mommy in the lead…follow the leader!…as we tramp through woods and paths and along the beaches and tidepools and corn mazes in the various seasons of the year.

This Christmas, my gift to all my grandchildren was the game Wildcraft Craft! An Herbal Adventure Game. They know that Noni and their Mumma’s have magical and healing herbs in the garden and cupboard… what a lovely idea to play a game to recognize these helpful plants on their own!

Wildcraft (2).jpg COPY

From walks in nature, to educating the young ones in the healing power of both wild and garden HERBS, this Noni and my daughters hope to keep ourselves and the children close to Nature…. physically, mentally and spiritually.

With love from Christine, The Greening Spirit

 

Christmas 2015 and a walk in the woods

Christmas 2015 and a walk in the woods with the boys!

 

 

 

For many years, and many years ago, I studied at a beautiful Catholic retreat center on the southern coast of Rhode Island – Our Lady of Peace Spiritual Life Center. The program mixed art, creation spirituality, prayer, psychology/Jungian dreamwork, ritual and the inspiration of the Rhineland Mystics. OLP, as we came to call it, was a refuge, a haven, a healing sanctuary and learning center for many of us who journeyed through the program and fanned out into the community to use what we had learned in a variety of creative ways.
 
 But that is not actually what I want to focus on here. What I am remembering are the grounds on which the retreat house and castle (yes, castle) lived, and a particular connection with nature that happened one morning on a meditative walk after breakfast.
Like many such centers, the grounds were private, spacious and magical: a pond with bullfrogs, snapping turtle and large goldfish, paths between holly trees, male and female (with and without berries for those of you who know holly biology) leading deep into the hidden woods, a sacred sheltering grove of ancient beech trees , always about 10 degrees cooler under the thick canopy of leaves on a sweltering humid summer day, a wetland with horsetail for knowledgeable herbal collectors. The grounds, even tho part of a Catholic retreat center, were deliciously Pagan in that way familiar to Celtic Spirituality.
 
 And so, that one morning very early, walking under the canopy of ancient wrinkled and grey-trunked beech trees, I was lost in thought, or meditation, or both, when I was suddenly stopped in my tracks by the call of my totem bird. A Crow. (Other people had swans and cardinals as a totem bird..you know, beautiful birds. I had/have…a Crow, The Truthteller.)
 
 I stopped and had a strange and almost disconcerting feeling of being watched…of being not alone in the woods as I had perceived. It was a very definite sense…a palpable sense of a Presence, and of being observed, or as I said, “watched”.
 
 Looking all around me I saw no movement, no people, no animals, at least not at ground level. Another loud “caw” from my Crow at the top of a giant old gnarled beech drew my attention upward along the trunk to stop with surprise at an amazing nest of leaves and a hole in the tree about 25 feet above, out of which was peering, RIGHT DOWN AT ME with a most direct gaze, a squirrel with a gaze that locked eyes with mine for several very intense minutes. Not once did he blink. Nor did I, I don’t think. But the silent communication that passed between us was filled with amused curiosity and the mutual unspoken thought-formed words upon each others presence, “Well now, just look at YOU. Aren’t you interesting, whatever it is you’re up to”.
 
 I did laugh right then, and again when I recorded this in my journal later that day to have been made aware of how limited our vision can be sometimes as we humans tromp and crash noisily in our busy-ness and through our hurried lives, so “in our heads“, or self-centered that we are completely un-awares of other, perhaps even older life forms somewhat hidden all around us… Oblivious of our creaturely brothers and sisters in the natural world who are right near us, and from their high up perches, peer with wonder and amusement, if not exasperation or bewilderment, at our speed and noise, our incessant comings and goings.
 
 And so it is in this season when the trees have shed their clothes, and sway bare to the elements, the winds and the forces of nature, that I am reminded to look UP and find the amazing tree houses where the squirrels hunker down and make community AND babies…and for sure, from where they keep an eye on us, knowing more about us than we can possibly imagine.
 
 

Little Brother is watching you!

 
 
 
 
 

 

 
 
 
Christine Phoenix-Green (January 2011)     
 
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