"Sit Spot is the core of the Core Routines and the heart of this mentoring model. It's the magic pill if ever there was one. Because we've seen it, time and time again, to be so vital and enchanting to the life of both young and old children [...] In this place, the lessons of nature will seep in.
"Sit Spot will become personal because it feels private and intimate; the place where they meet their curiosity; the place where they feel wonder; the place where they get eye-to-eye with diversity of life-forms and weather patterns; the place where they face their fears - of bugs, of being alone, of the dark - and grow past them; and the place where they meet nature as their home." Excerpt from Coyote's Guide
I really enjoyed the connection to this special place. I also enjoyed all the reporting from other sit spots around the world. The Wilderness Awareness School guided this challenge globally this month.
Day 1: Spend 10 minutes or more at your spot. Introduce yourself and let yourself get familiar with who and what you share the spot with. Daily directions can be done or leave any suggestions.
Nothing going on. Complete silence in the forest. Just the road and lots of pretty leaves. Sun light coming through the trees.
Day 2: Find the 4 directions (North, South, East and West) from your spot. Which direction are you facing?
Very quiet. Maybe one little bird some place away. Keep focusing on the trees for movements. Thinking it could be a bird or squirrel I saw many leaves drop instead.
The Mountain Ash and the Holly wearing their plenty red berries. Then, a squirrel on a thin hazel branch reaching to the very tip of the branch almost breaking it or falling off. It would have fallen on the blue tarp on the trampoline underneath and I imagined how it would have enjoyed bouncing.
I love watching the squirrel jumping off a branch into a dense bush totally trusting it will land safely. It's such an inspiration for me to take a leap and trust things will work out by landing on something that will support me.
The squirrel went up the BLM totally blending into the bark but easy to spot when moving. It went out of sight. I watched the sun light play with the leaves and felt the colder temperature chill my body. I listened to the kids playing in the Park and cars on the nearby road before heading inside.
Day 3: What is drawing your attention and curiosity the most so far? Of all the living beings around you, which do you feel the most connection with?
Went to my sit spot right after waking up. It was raining and I tried to make sense of all the sounds I was hearing. I was looking for my squirrel friends, and was excited to see them up, but it was just the rain bending down the branches. Took me forever to locate the last 2 sounds. One was rain going down the pipe and hitting fabric.
I didn't hear any birds, which I find so unusual as I always hear them there. Wonder if the barred owl chased them off and hope for there return. I did see a bird fly high but couldn't tell if it was a crow or something else.
Taking inventory of the plants today. Starting in the North with Bamboo, Hazel, Camellia and the majestic Magnolia tree, the still blooming orange rose. In the west the twin Doug firs towering over the neighborhood with sap going down only on their North side. No squirrels up in their favorite spot today.
South of the firs is the Cedar with beautiful, dense, swoopy branches coexisting with an Elder at the corner, next to a mid-sized BLM that grew out of an old 5 feet high stump. Oregon Ash and English Holly showing off their red berries, the only color standing out in the yellow-green ocean of shades.
Below them is one of my babies, a small fir I planted last Spring. Planted with high hopes to take over the canopy without leaving a big gap once the Holly is removed. The little fir looks healthy and makes me happy. I can't see the little Cascara from my spot. The sorrel covers the ground mixed in with sparse grass and brown.
A dense patch of Sword Fern and the triangle shaped Fern (can't remember, maybe Bracken or Lady or Deer) grows along the edge. Another sturdy Holly next to the Hazel, the squirrels favorite playground, the skinny Madrona leaning on its tree friend, to the big happy Big Leave Maple. A Hazel and Privet hedge creating a boundary between the green belt and the hilly lawn between South and East.
Finally coming to the 2 giant Maples in the East housing lots of critters in their trunk sitting up on the slope.
Day 4: Notice how the change of routine affects your spot, and your experience at your spot. Bonus: Draw map around sit spot
Original Sitspot at WAS
The spot I first discovered blindfolded. Probably my 20th time coming to my first sitspot. Today counted 10 stumps all around. Also notice mushrooms all around. On my way to my spot I took a different route and startled a squirrel. I was excited to see or at least hear some amazing things. Squirrel alarmed. Silence. Grumbling from the distance. Like someone banging on metal violently. Weird and unexpected. Then motor cycle or ATV engine sounds reving. Getting closer and closer. I stand up expecting to see one coming up the hill but sounds leave again. I get a bit upset about this being my sitspot experience for the day. Not at all what I expected. Also noticing my inner Lorax not being cool with them doing races in this pristine wilderness. And feeling guilty about my ignorance. I head downhill to look for their tracks but are stopped by the pond, not too far where I saw beaver scat for the first time not too long ago. On my way back to the lodge I come across the spot where the squirrel was hanging out - and notice a flock of Wrens zipping through the air almost like hummingbirds, very busy and playful, one resting on a branch not too far over my head so I can inspect it closely. While my sitspot feel a bit short, I still got to experience what I was looking for. Nature provides.
That evening I joined the Elder Fire for the first time. I shared about my day where everything seems to fall in place (drop off Tim, gas, shades, muffins,... and then being around for the fire). I really enjoyed our conversations and the presence of so many WAS friends (Brian, Josh, Bob, Pat). One young woman came up to me to compliment me on all the cool things I shared about the Deep Listening, my crew with Jerry Seinfeld, Christmas Carols for Starbucks and having fun doing the right thing. My ride home was cheerful and accompanied by John OBrien on the radio.
Besides elder roles, mentoring, culture, religion and living green we also talked about 'olders' being resentful about not having done the right thing with their life and then being hostile to the young. And all the miscommunication this causes. A great reminder for my upcoming trip.
Day 5: What patterns are you beginning to notice at your spot. Some things to consider are weather, celestial bodies, animal, plant, people, etc. Bonus: Draw map 100 meter around sit spot
Original Sit spot at WAS
This time prepared with charged phone for pictures. Looking for pattern. Visually, this place is total and utterly chaos. Leaves, all colors spread, thin to large trees next to each other, not even 2 of the same kind of anything anywhere. The cedar bark missing pieces. No real pattern there. Old stumps all crooked. Hillside all uneven. Hard to process for my well trained brain to find pattern.
But then I focused on sounds. Chanting from the nearby inipi sweat lodge ceremony. Very consistent. Very easy pattern. Also, squirrel alarm. Bird call. And 2 planes going over with a very consistent engine noise.
Day 6: Notice 3 or more things at your spot that you've never really noticed before
I was out there at 10:40 and it was mayhem. Juncos, sparrows, maybe nuthatches all out there darting through the air being very busy. Saw some movement in the Holly tree and in the Hazel and bamboo and up in the Doug Fir. They were on the deck, on the planter, drinking from the edge of the bird bath. And anywhere in between.
It made be very happy to watch all the commotion. As I felt satisfied and wanted to go back inside, I say some movement in the big hazel next to the trampoline. One of the squirrels jumped out and ran to the big Maple chased by another. They chased each other in spirals up and down the trunk and it made me so happy to be able to witness their playfulness. As they stopped and sat, I ended my session for today.
Worked hard on the unusual. Maybe the Maples spelling a 'V' and 'Y'. Maybe that I think I can see some part of the playground behind the corner cedar gleaming through. Maybe that I'm not sure where the trunk of the corner cedar really is - or if there is more than one.
Day 7: Focus as much attention on your sense of touch
Went early to make sure I would get a chance on this busy day. Touch. Felt a cold-ish wind hit my face from East to west. Felt the morning sun touch my skin with a cold glimmer attached.
Looked out for my friends, the Birds and Squirrels. It took me a while to hear a few bird calls. Starred a bit, you could say 'owl eyed' around, but besides some leaves dropping, I didn't see anything. I still enjoyed my time but went inside after a few minutes to build a cage for the bunnies.
Later I noticed that all the Hollies are now injected. And Squirrel doing it's stunts high up in the trees. Also found a tiny flower.
Day 8: Focus as much attention on your sense of hearing, What are you hearing? Quietest sound? Sound furthest away? Find a sound coming from each directions.
Very brief visit after work, I believe. Lots of Juncos busy in the Magnolia. Just doing there thing. Not noticing me. Squirrel on the maple munching. Not sure what
Day 9: Using Owl eyes, focus as much attention on your sense of sight. What colors, textures and shapes?
Slow morning. Forgot to do sit spot. Went to Seahurst. Found some tracks. Walked. Talked. Ran errands. Forgot about sit spot. Went out for sunset and didn't hear any sounds other then traffic. Saw a dad with his toddler kicking leaves in the Park. Shelly came up but didn't notice me in the corner. Didn't want to startle her. Looked for movement. Listened to sound. Really enjoyed the string light in the tree.
Owl Eyes: focus your vision on a central point. Now soften your vision and attempt to see what is in your peripheral vision, without moving your eyeballs. Try to see as much as possible. Notice motion helps you spotting wild visitors.
Day 10: Awake sense of smell and taste. Taste the air? Taste last meal? Smell weather?
Didn't catch my story of the day :-(
Day 11: Owl Eyes, Deer Ears" (hearing 360 degrees around you, near and far), touch, feel ground, temperature on your skin, take a deep breath, smell scents surrounding you BONUS: Practice Sense Meditation throughout your day.
Went out and waited. Noticed a bunch of little insects but besides car noise and some people in the park I didn't see any movement in any of the trees. Waited.
Day 12: Find a new wild being from our spot. Seek out a new plant, animal, fungi (mushroom) or algae (lichen) that you aren't familiar with. Use all of your senses to learn about this new friend.
Went after planting a bunch of trees at Westcrest and heard a light commotion in the maple next to the ash, then close to the trampoline and in the fern. Used Owl eyes and spotted a tiny bird zipping through the air like a hummingbird. Saw it under the trampoline play with the fabric straps. When it came closer I could spot the white stripe on the head, Bewick's Wren. And another one that seemed to miss the stripe, so maybe a Winter Wren? I watched them hop around together. They made me so happy and excited. I then spotted one of my squirrel friends sit on the stump up in the fire circle. It was just sitting there being busy. Didn't move thou. I went back and forth watching the Wrens and the Squirrel and then noticed the tuk-tuk-tuk from my Juncos moving in the Cedar. A bunch. Busy. Noisy. Happy. I checked if I could spot any movement in the big Doug Firs. If they are in the Magnolia they hop between the Doug Fir and the Magnolia, but not on the other corner. I was wondering if anyone lives in the Dough Fir. They seem to hard to put holes in. Where do they squirrels live? Does the owl hang out in the fir? I never saw it there. So many questions.
Day 13: Where are the animals going? Look for animal trails, tracks, pattern of flattened grass.
Short sit spot at 2 pm heading out back to work. Owl eyes practice. Funny how leaves trick me. Saw a woodpecker on the V Maple hole. Wonder if it just looked for food or if it considers it as housing. Also where is it's mate? Missed the tuk-tuks. Saw a couple of friendly chickadees in the Magnolia. Showed them to Layla. Sunny, but cold. First night of frost.
Day 14: Move as silently as possible, take your time, move slowly, pause often to drop into your senses and take in your surroundings
Spent some time outside stringing up Christmas lights. Did hear some commotion in the trees nearby but couldn't spot them. It got really cold fast as soon as the sun set. It's really interesting how it's either busy or completely calm in the trees. Missed my Stellar Jays the entire 2 weeks. Where do they hang out? Not around here apparently. Really enjoyed the challenge and how it made me see so many different things, connect with the 'neighbors', dive a bit deeper in Bird Language.
Day 15: Take some time to think back through this challenge and look for any patterns in your energy levels, mood, creativity, motivation, well-being
Went out at 10. Silence, except for the street noise on Fauntleroy. Almost left my spot in resentment, but my owl eyes caught some movement. The tiny wrens darting out of the Hollies North. As I watched, I saw more movement in the tree, expecting leaves fall or more birds, but it was my squirrel friends chasing each other from the South Maple past the ivy patch up the hill to the V and Y-shaped maples doing their spirals, jumping. One reddish, the other grey. I was happy experiencing their playfulness again - representing the final day. I watched them for a while. Foraging. Then a third squirrel joined them coming out of one of the big Doug Firs. Chasing the one that came close for a bit, then more parallel foraging without friction. Maybe quickly staking out territory. A crow flew in landing on its usual landing strip, the walking path in the Park.
Another great weekend at my Wild Plant Intensive at WAS.
Plant Medicine. Elderberry Syrup. Usnea Tinture. Nettle Rub. Spirit Plant Walk. Lichen Dye. Learnt so much with my fellow plant dorks.
My questions I contemplated on my spirit plant walk.
What is in store for me?
What do I have to offer?
I got lots of answers from my nature friends: Huckleberry, Moss, Vine Maple, Oregon Grape, Funghi, Cedar, Devils Club,
Prickly and vulnerable, fresh start, odd ball
Obstacles request flexibility
So much beauty everywhere. Sometimes easy to oversee. Stop and smell the roses!
My parents: sturdy support, different-but-alike, sunny, watching over me, once joint but now grown apart
Sunlight projects myself on an old stump. Reflection reminds me of a Jester. I like to entertain, build community, making encounters feel light but memorable.
The top is the AFTER Picture. So happy to see these Thimbleberries doing well. This patch was blackberry heaven and after some hard work of cutting them down, taking out root balls, sheet mulching, and replanting native plants these seem to do great in their new home at Fairmount Park.
Here is the BEFORE Picture from December 2017, when we planted them:
And the WAY BEFORE Picture when it was still a wild patch of invasive Himalayan blackberries.
Curious Bee. Forest Steward. Nature Nerd. Climate Activist Mom.