The Green People are such generous and forgiving relatives. This week at the Anake Outdoor School, we touched briefly on the delights and gifts that the plants offer us if we so choose to learn how to harvest and process them in the proper ways. We then were taught how this plays into the bigger picture of stewarding our school’s land in a good way that promotes the health and regeneration of the eco-system. Finally, Jon Young, our school founder, came in to share the history of our school and the land it’s built on.
Here is a poem that was inspired by our day of working and learning more about our plant friends:
Dig the Balance
Dig, I Dig for the treats in the cool damp earth,
I stretch my feetletts down, down, down into the magic that is quietly dancing beneath the
the creeping crawlies munch on the nutrients that are living below what our eyes cannot see,
one mouthful at a time they transform our food into what we can now absorb.
I exchange my waste and draw in the deep nutrients.
I drink deeply the sweet blood of the earth,
Flowing up the channels along my trunk,
I wave to the sunlight that is traveling down my veins into my feet to reconnect our sun with our
I reach for the stars and scratch the sky when it’s itchy,
I am a current between earth and sky,
I am a bridge between worlds.
I dance to a tune of a song of life that is ancient and pure,
I breathe in the gift of your air, and I gift you the breath of my lungs.
together we exchange the medicine the creators have gifted to share with the world.
Let us remember the balance of creation,
offer a gift before we ask for something,
listen with our hearts for a response,
harvest with awareness and love,
work together to create potent medicine to help our fellow relatives.
We rotated between groups to work more deeply with a particular aspect of plant medicine. We were able to harvest some Oregon grape root and cedar fronds to make a tincture. In another group, we observe more closely our tree relatives and discovered some tricks in identifying them from afar, then collected and made a decoction with the fallen needles. We also made a delicious smelling salve from poplar buds harvested from last year’s class, and finally sat with our relative Comfrey to more deeply connect with her spirit. Sitting with a plant and listening to the ancient parts of ourselves as to what medicine the plant has to offer, how to prepare her, how to best use her, and the best time of year/day to harvest her. This reminded me of the practice of listening to the plants for guidance and how to best work with the plant. I was also, reminded that this way of interacting with plants is not new and that we as humans have just forgotten to work with them in this way. It was a lot of fun to incorporate this aspect of plant and human communication.
On day two of this week, we had two guest instructors come and share with us their experience of being stewards of our campus we call Linne Doran. We were told the story of this land, of the Snoqualmie ancestors that stewarded this land well before us, of the introduction of illness and cultural genocide that came with the arrival of the settlers, the logging that ensued, and how this land was found to house this school. Our clans had the chance to tend and love up various parts of the land. There was loads of laughter, singing, and clan bonding as this relaxed day allowed us to get to know the land here more intimately and develop deeper relationships with the plants and animals of Linne Doran. We were encouraged to listen to the land, to perceive how it was out of balance and how we can help to rebalance it. Part of the goal was to create spaces that would invite others to explore them as well as the planting of different species trees to increase the biodiversity of this area.
On the third day this week, we were lucky to have Jon Young come and visit our class. Jon shared with us stories of his adventures in outdoor education. We got to hear his stories from around the world, of his working with various cultures, as well as the first-hand account of how this school came to be on this land. It was a perfect follow up to our previous stewardship day.
These three days helped shape the story and the greater vision of the school. To create a diverse and healthy eco-system where children and adults can come to connect, explore, play, and be wild again!
Come Visit the Anake Outdoor School to discover the magic for yourself!