Coyote had to compete in a serious of challenges (sit spot, animal forms, improv, bow drill, Brooke's Nature Museum, awareness) and earn the power of tools and resources. YES, we picked THE shovel in the morning. All to make good use in a balloon fire making competition (we won third place) before taking the fire on a little swim through the pond. We took first. Yip!
This mouse lives in a magical place,
Where the morning sun slowly sweeps away ice from frozen maple leaves,
Where Housefinches skip from branch to branch,
Hummingbirds call each other for companionship,
Trumpeter swans cheer each other on with honks.
Where the Great Blue Heron flies low,
the Bald Eagle watches over the Snohomish River,
And the Flicker spreads their colorful wings.
Where mallards swim together in circles,
And a Cinnamon teal might be seen.
Where endless bird poop can be found.
Where Caddisfly larvae uses silk to make a protective case out of gravel,
sand and tiny pieces of plants, so strong they are hard to pull apart.
Where Cedars make great hides
But less mindful visitors leave their tools and lunches
Decorating logs with sprayed art.
Where Beavers snack on young Cottonwood branches
Leaving behind their tracks to observe
Where Coyotes go swimming in the icy cold river
Taking a long time to build a fire afterwards
Where Bob saved the place from development
His death marking the end of the Golden Age of Steelheading.
This mouse lives in a magical place.
Today our Anake session was to connect with our sit spot land in a deeper way. We set some intentions in the morning before going out for about 2 hours. Tending, listening, offering, touching, beautifying,... inspired by the 5 Love Languages and aware what we offer might be not what the land asks for.
My intention was to listen to the land. I started with taking the trash out. I had a pile collected at Fairmount and was meaning to get it out for a while. It was a rainy morning and I enjoyed getting soaking wet. I cut my way through a lot of blackberries on my way to the little Madrona I planted with David 2 years ago. She looks very happy with her glossy wet leaves. I also freed up the little Thimbleberry and Gooseberry Patch close by.
A woman played with her Golden Doodle in the Park and they sounds they made where very different from all the other Dog/human-pairs that frequent the field. I looked up a couple of times but could not really figure out what was so special about their play.
I continued my blackberry cutting east of the Cherry log and listened to the birds chatter about me. There wasn't much else going on, so I was pretty sure it was about me. I wondered if they are annoyed by my actions or if they can feel my intention of bringing more diversity and food sources for them instead. I could feel their energy and started whistling the melody of 'grateful to be' but didn't connect the song with the lyrics at first. I just felt like their alertness switched more to curiosity and general chatter and away from my presence.
Like the birds in the sky
Like the dragonfly
Like the trees listening
What lives in them lives in me
I am grateful to be
Breathing, heart beating, joyous, and free
Even though hard times are all around me
I am grateful to be
When we met on Zoom again after our dirt time, and shared about our experiences. I was completely soaked but very happy. Cutting blackberries is meditative and very satisfying for me. I can listen to all the sounds and rediscover plants hidden under 15 feet of blackberry canes.
Later I looked up the song online and loved how much meaning the words had to my morning. It was the second day after the 2020 Election and we were all waiting for the call who will be the next US President. There was a general heaviness in the air. I worried a lot for the future of the planet if the US leadership would continue under an evil person that lacks any sense for stewardship and the importance of a healthy ecosystem for human survival.
Happy little Madrona
My Sit Spot is next to my house in Seattle. I moved here in 2015 and the woods/green belt next to my house seemed very scary and dangerous. It took me almost 2 years to master the courage to slowly explore the area. There was a patch of ferns, a row of Holly trees of different ages and a few Maples. It was very overgrown by Himalayan blackberries and trashed with the remains of a homeless encampment. In 2017 I heard about the Green Seattle Partnership and reached out about the Park next to my house and how I could volunteer taking care of the woods. I got some Forest Steward training and over the last years I took out a big area of blackberries and planted over 600 native plants with the help of roughly 200 volunteers. I feel very connected to this land and not scared anymore as I check in with a lot of the new plants and spend a good amount of dirt time there.
When Covid started in March, I started going to a regular sit spot under the big maples in the Northeast corner of the park adjacent to my backyard and took my 14 year old son along. He was introduced to sit spot at WAS overnight camps and kind of likes it, but wouldn’t go without me asking. We usually sat for 15 minutes and asked each other some questions afterwards.
When I had to find a spot, I immediately went to my established sit spot facing the big Beaked Hazel and thinking about how I sometimes have to leave my sit spot in a rush when kids from the playground on the West of the park come explore the woods and I don’t want to scare them and hide quickly. I want to avoid that they go back to their parents and tell them a weird lady is sitting there and the parents wouldn’t let them go in the wood by themselves anymore out of fear that person, me, could be dangerous. Some of the kids know me from Nature Club and introduced me to their friends and parents when I work along the edge of the green belt, but I understand how I might seem scary if they haven't met me yet.
So, after a week of sit spot I decided to move my spot about 25 feet to the North into my backyard. It’s still under the big Maples but a bit more open, but also private, so I can see the big Douglas firs in the East and the tree tops of the Maples and the single leaning Madrona along the Park edge and won’t have to hide any longer. I instantly got rewarded by a Flicker pair hanging out in the tree top and was able to watch them for a while. I haven’t seen these for the last 7 months going to my old sit spot tucked away under the tree, but might have been right below these Flickers without ever noticing.
When I printed the maps I noticed how much tree cover the entire North edge of the Park still has with these huge towering Big Leaf Maples of different ages next to each other. I think the two closest to me on the top of the slope are the oldest, probably around 80 years old. Then 2 going down the slope, one entangled with the Madrona, past my previous sit spot seem to be about 70 years and then 3 more closer to the opening that seem 5-10 years younger. But they could all be the same age just growing differently in different conditions.
On the other site to the North of my sit spot is a giant Laurel that is very dense. I hear some noises in there, but can rarely spot anything. It’s just so wild.
On the slope east of me is Ivy covering the ground. I started planting dewberry there 2 years ago and harvested a bunch of yummy berries this summer. I have to be careful to walk through as the dewberries try to catch my feet and make me stumble. I had all the ivy removed but it grew back strong. Every time I sit, I think about how I should take out the Ivy again. It’s just such a nice ground cover for the birds and little critters. My hope is that I can take out the Ivy and the dewberry will be thick enough to take over the job of providing cover.
I try to go to my sit spot whenever I come home from running errands or a walk. Instead of walking up the stairs I’ll walk up to my spot first, sit a bit. When we moved in there was a giant tree - probably a walnut, maybe also home of a tree house - covering half of our backyard. After a couple of months, we finally saw it apart into big stumps to sit on. I call it the Elder Circle. We sometimes have a fire pit in the middle of it in summer, singing songs and roasting Marshmallows.
I can also see my empty bee boxes to the North and a young pine tree that is fighting for some light under a big long Maple branch. It feels a bit like a sick child. I thought about transplanting it but it’s about 14 feet high by now and I fear it might not survive a move.
On my way back I pass my little tracking sandpit I set up a while ago, while doing Tracking Intensive. It is covering one of the steps leading down the slope to the back patio. I am always amazed how many critters come through. I thought they might avoid stepping in the sand, but it’s lovely what nice prints they leave for me to inspect. I’ll scare the bunnies, when I approach the back entrance too quickly where they roam in our sunroom. Scaredy buns.
I try to practice fox walk coming in and leaving the spot, do deer ears when I want to tune in to sounds, and remember owl eyes to pick up on movements. Often I get tricked by leaves sailing down when I was excited about a bird or the squirrels showing up. I have to turn around to take in all sites and that seems a bit challenging. I don’t want to miss out on any action and try to use body radar for where my attention should be. Sometimes that changes quickly. I am curious how the activity will change with the time of day and can’t believe I have not seen or heard any critters (rats) hiding in the ivy yet. I was also confused I haven’t seen any squirrel activity there, but then saw one right when I foxwalked back to the house and it didn’t notice me, hauling an acorn past our backyard barbeque.
I am excited about all the things I might discover the next couple of months.
If I'm really honest with myself, why am I here?
I'm a wild thing. Tamed and muted by education, anxiety and capitalism. Society, crazy and deep. Destroying our home.
I'm a worker bee caught between adventure and duty. Inspired by the brilliance of each flower, snowflake, seed gathering life's elixir. Mystery. Beauty. Grief. Keeping it together. Propolis. One with the hive. Unique. Like everyone. One. Temporary.
What longing am I moving towards?
Giving my inner child what it needs to be happy. Playing in the forest with friends. Wondering. Creating space for magic. Dazzle. Enchantment. Desperate for connection. I want to feel home wherever I go.
Walked Camp Long and saw 2 Garter snakes under Critter Board.
Visited my sit spot and had an almost magical moment when after 20 min of Seahawks cheering neighbors and the bummer, I heard about 5 different birds alarming all of a sudden.
About 2 minutes in the big black neighbor cat hunted by. He didn't notice me at first. Then he looked a bit irritated at me and took off through the curved cedar.
All the birds still alarmed for about 2 more minutes steadily before the quieted down and only a sparrow kept alarming.
After doing a Bird sit last week it was super cool to experience this.
Wander at Schmitz
Slugs, mud, log
Looked at crusty lichen on big trees
Got to Linne Doran late
Emailed til 2
Heard alarm at 6
Not a happy camper
Learned about Linne Doran History
Went on a bird wander
Saw a grey jay maybe
Learnt more about bird language
Presented spotted towhee pipilo
Cool stories about poly robins
Walked to Mosswood w Genevieve
Chatted with Rowan + Maggie
Went to Tolt with Allegra
Camas is Self-Heal
Bird long white brown
A wet day in the PNW. We needed it to have some relief from the smoke, but still. I was not super excited to get out when it got darker - it was already dark all day - and also colder, but I did it. I needed to figure out how many paces in each direction I need to draw my Master map.
I walked in, enjoyed that the trash pile was gone, walked up, sat down, noticed the rain hitting the leaves and with my Owl eyes I tried to react to every movement, but all the movements where just leaves bounces up and down after being hit by a raindrop.
When I took off the mask for a second, I could smell the smoke in the air, like a camp fire.
I then focused right in front of me where the Roly-Poly was hanging out yesterday, but couldn't see anything move. I looked to my left and there she was. Graciously blending in with the pretty stump. I was memorized for a bit by this beautiful sight. She looks like marble. Not all slugs are usually that pretty and elegantly glued to a stump.
I saw some fresh cut hazel twigs on the ground and tried to figure out what happened - and found a little trail going along the power line connecting to the power pole to one of my neighbors back yard fences. Now I wonder if they want to be connected to the Park, or just needed excess to the power pole where all the Internet cables are connected, but I couldn't see anything different about the hazel there. Very mysterious.
Walking back to my spot - counted steps - I noticed this plant beaming in age. So fragile. Delicate. Laced. Another master piece. And the light just hit it to make it shine. One more time.
This morning when I stepped outside for a second, I heard a very loud crunch on the right Douglas fir out front. I waited a bit and then the little fluffy tail came in site. I waited a bit more and my neighbor squirrel positioned itself on a little branch carrying a big nut or acorn in his mouth. The sound when he climbed head down the trunk to get to the branch was amplified, almost screaming at me. I do think he knows me. He rarely screams at me even if I pass under the tree. He nibbed a bit on his food before dashing off over his highway - from one Doug to the next over the cherry into the Cedar.
One of my goals is to earn his trust and be able to get closer. Also to find out if he is in fact a 'he'.
When I stepped out in the afternoon to go to my sit spot there were two of them in the tree. One climbing down a very brittle, dried up looking branch, I would avoid if I was a squirrel.
I visited my sit spot. I would think I come here since May. It definitely feels longer, but I think I switched around from my front porch to the opening to different spots in my little forest. After Kai, my mentee left, I started taking Tim to do sit spot - and started climbing up the little hill - and then left. It's close to the Junction in 4-5 directions.
Today I stepped into the forest with the intention of taking out some of the trash left behind as it distracts me from focusing. It was a lot and I could not understand where all the new trash came from. Did the wind expose it as there is a whole layer still there from a former camp. I was very happy to clean up the bits and pieces. One was a plastic Easter egg (apparently left behind from our last egg hunt - and then rolled in the open - who does that?) where someone clearly enjoyed the chocolate inside. The wrapper was torn in lots of little pieces. Squirrel?
I went and took note of the scat on the little hillside next to the beautifully rotting log, which could be cat or raccoon or anything that size. Will need to investigate. Looked up all the scat in this size and didn't find anything that fit it. It was too small for house cat or raccoon and the form too long for anything else in that shape. Close by are lots of empty hazel nuts and feeding debris. Probably from the Squirrels or rats? Will need to investigate.
On my way back I found 3 feathers about 3 feet apart. Two bright blue and one fluffy. I was looking around for more, expecting a kill site, but couldn't find any more.
Later, I looked up 'Fairmount Park' and my sit spot on Google Earth and the parcel finder and another page and did the same for my sit spot at Linne Doran.
We were given a story about 2 boys experiencing nature very differently.
How do you relate to the characters?
I relate to Sean experiencing endless curiosity about about basically everything and how all is related. I do feel like I had a 'Grandmother' (my Dad), in my life that modeled deep nature connection to me early on. We spent a lot of time outside, always barefoot, had a little garden, lived along our Sparrows, harvested berries and smelled hedges as we passed them on our walks. We walked a lot. We walked in a sit spot loop - always passing the same spots - keeping track of the natural world as it unfolded over the seasons, as well as the people.
I can also relate to Martin feeling I don't know as much about all my neighbors in my new home (for 15 years - compared to my home growing up for 18 years). I did lose a bit of that connection during college and career and slowly pulled on the threads of connection when I raised my kids. I tried to raise them a bit like I was raised, just with a lot more restrictions, as city life and crime rates seemed to be a little more threatening to let them free roam when they were little. Over those years we all got lazier and less comfortable with harsh weather, longer excursions, but still went on walks. Just more like Martin. Getting from point A to B without stopping, taking it in, smelling, observing, wondering.
I slowly get more comfortable with the uncomfortable now, having backpacked over 125 miles this summer and being out and about for the last winters, on tracking trips, camping, driving on ice and snow. And also going on evening walks passing the same yards, noticing changes in the seasons, 'for sale' signs, stickers on cars, birds in the highest trees on the route.
Curious Bee. Forest Steward. Nature Nerd. Climate Activist Mom.