We kicked off the fall session at our favorite local park, Ragle Ranch. There were still plenty of blackberries around so we took the opportunity to harvest some and each child was able to make a shrub to take home and enjoy with their family. A shrub consists of 1 part fruit, 1 part vinegar (we used Apple cider vinegar) and 1 part sweeter (we used honey). While we were down at the creek, some children noticed a fruiting elderberry bush and added some elderberries to their shrubs for an added medicinal boost! Also at the creek, the children made boats and floated them down the river in a series of races! They gave their boats many clever names, including one called "the bad idea," which ended up not being such a bad idea after all! We had some new friends joining the group this session and it was so heart warming to see how many of the children went out of their way to make our new friends feel welcome and a part of the group.
SALMON CREEK BEACH
We like to take care of the places that we visit, and at Salmon Creek beach this year we did our Annual Beach Clean up with the kids. We collected 2 pounds of trash this year, which is significantly less than we collected last year. This felt like a good sign to us. We also learned a valuable lesson about why we don't feed the wildlife! We ended our day playing on the Big Dunes near the creek and got to see a most magnificent display of "dancing" by a pair of Egrets...we wondered why they might be doing that. Some children thought it could be some type of mating/courting dance, while others believed it could be males fighting over territory.
DORAN BIRD WALK
We kicked off our Nature Journaling this year with an Activity that we call "INIWIRMO", which is short for I notice, I wonder, It reminds me of. This activity helps the children to use all their senses to observe an object of interest and by using the three prompts of INIWORMO to learn more about what they are studying. It was also an extremely hot day and the sea was very calm so we were able to splash around in the shore and a few kids attempted to go "surfing" with a big plank of wood that had washed up on the beach.
The weather was perfect for our day at Bodega Dunes. This place is so magical. We played a game called "My Secret Plant" where the children went out into the dunes and picked a secret plant, they then had to create a page in their nature journal that someone else can use to find the plant. The children were creative in how they lead each other to finding their secret plant. Some drew elaborate maps with detailed instructions on how to find the plant, while others drew pictures of the plant and added specific details about their special plant that they noticed to help their friends find it.
We arrived at Campbell Cove early in the morning while the tide was still high and the beach was no where to be seen. We played a game called "To Each Their Own" where each child picked a rock from the environment and then drew it in their nature journal with as much detail and information as they could. Then all of the rocks where placed in a pile in the center of a circle surrounded by everyone's nature journals. The challenge was to match each rock with the correct nature journal. The kids really loved this activity and noticed how helpful it was when there was a lot of detailed information to help them match the correct rock to the correct page.
Once the tide had dropped enough we headed down to the cove to do a little exploring. Some children were brave and went into the deep dark cave along the edge of the cove while others took a moment to make some pottery from a patch of clay that they discovered just outside of the dark cave. We eventually made our way down the beach to where the shore crabs like to hide under the rocks. We learned how to sex the crabs, noticing which ones were male or female depending on the shape of their underside.
The Hike down to the beach through the Gulch is always so beautiful. This day when we arrived on the beach there was a lot of seaweed everywhere so we took the opportunity to collect as many different types as we could find in order to compare them and notice the differences. We even made a little seaweed gallery on a log to display all of the different colors and variations of these amazing sea plants!
When we arrived we headed straight to our favorite spot in the Cypress trees. This was Aniela's first day back in the group. We had our 2nd Annual Promontory Poetry Slam where the children wrote their choice of poem. Many did Acrostic Poems and Haikus, and we took turns reciting them to the group. The children practiced a fun trick, in which they literally walk on the tree tops. It is quite the sight to see! Imagine what the birds must think?!
LAGUNA DE SANTA ROSA
We arrived at the Laguna just after the big Atmospheric River hit our area. The Laguna was completely flooded and it looked like a beautiful lake. We shared the story of how the Laguna came to be and it helped to shed some light as to why this area floods so severely when there are large rain events. The Laguna was in fact the old channel to the Russian River that many years before humans even arrived in California, used to go out to sea by San Pablo Bay. A huge earthquake reversed the flow of the river sending it out to sea out by Jenner, and leaving behind the old channel that is now our wetland complex known locally as the Laguna de Santa Rosa. It quite literally is a huge catchment just waiting to be filled to recharge the land.
CEMETARY / LUTHER BURBANK EXPERIMENTAL FARM
We started our Day at Libby Park where Emma joined us and we painted our faces for our Day of the Dead Parade to the Cemetery. We arrived and found ourselves a nice place to make our Altar. We took turns adding photos of our Ancestors and sharing stories about them. It was quite lovely to see the reverence and the respect that the children had for each other as they each shared about their families. We also walked around the cemetery and some children did grave rubbings with block crayons. We also saw a very interesting tree that appeared to be growing in the shape of a heart! We then headed over to the Luther Burbank Experimental farm for Lunch. After Lunch we explored the farm where all of Luther Burbank famous plant experiments reside, including many hybrid Walnut and Chestnut trees. It seems like we were a bit late for the chestnuts as we were hoping to harvest some but found nothing but empty spiky shells!
On this particular wet and rainy field day we attempted to make fire from scratch. We used some cattail fluff and kindling and were able after considerable effort to start the fire using a flint that Brook had. We also spent some time processing Acorns that Brook later used to make the delicious acorn cookies that we enjoyed at our gratitude Potluck.
LAGUNA DE SANTA ROSA / RED BARN GRATITUDE GATHERING
On our last Field Day together we went back to the Laguna and found it quite different than when we had visited it just a few weeks earlier. The water was all gone and there were mushrooms everywhere! We nature journaled our objects of interest from 3 different perspectives (normal, close up, far away) to gain new insight from each different angle. We ended our day with a fun game of capture the flag, where we learned that taking risks does pay off! After a full day we headed to the Red Barn with the children to prepare for the arrival of the parents for our gratitude gathering. We shared some amazing food together and the kids put on a Silly Skit about the Fall Session from the point of view of the plants and animals at each location.
We are so grateful to get to do the work and play we do, and spend our days in the field with your amazing children! Looking forward to 2022 and the many adventures we will share together!
Jenny, Victoria, Brook, & Jenny