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Archive for the ‘Plants’ Category

Join Clinical Herbalist, Plant Lover, and exceptional Great Hollow Homeschool Mentor for…

A Summer of Healing with the Plants

a nature immersion learning experience for adults

at Great Hollow Wilderness School ~ 800 acres of educational sanctuary land

Wild Medicine Intensive ~ June 26 & June 27
During this weekend intensive learn to identify, harvest and turn our wild local medicinal plants into useful remedies to stock the pantry. Fee: $125; materials fee: $25

Talking with Trees ~ July 17

In this day-long exploration of the Tree Nation, learn about trees in their natural habitats; explore folklore and tree symbolism; medicinal uses of various parts of trees and harvesting and preparation of tree medicines.
Fee: $62.50; materials fee $15

Flower Essences ~ July 18

Spend a day among the flowering plants of New England. Learn the techniques for making your own Flower Essences, the energetic medicine of the flower. Fee: $62.50; materials fee $15

The Herbal Kitchen ~ July 24

Explore your pantry! Learn about the spices and ingredients you already have at home and how they can be used to make effective home remedies for your family. Fee: $62.50; materials fee $15

Intensive Medicinal Plant Walk ~ July 25
Explore our forests, fields, rivers and gardens and learn about the medicinal, edible and functional uses of New England native plants and common weeds. Fee: $62.50

*Advanced cash only materials fee and $25 deposit is required. 10% discount for multiple classes.*

~ All classes from 9 am to 3 pm ~

For information call Great Hollow Wilderness School 203-746-5852

Thanks and please spread the word!

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native-harvests-with-barrie-1-0071 Ahhh yes. In between snowfalls and cancelled programs, we have the Gem of January. Our Thursday brought in the brave nature souls for Barrie’s Native Harvests. It felt so good to get out of the house to learn with the kids, but somehow still allow the real rhythm of winter to reign. We trekked out into the white yard, and followed some of the littlest tracks…..

native-harvests-with-barrie-1-0031We followed these around the yard, into the stone wall, and back out again, only to fint much bigger tracks. Which led up to the apple tree. Once we were at the apple tree, Barrie talked all about how much the apple tree provides, even in the winter. All the terminal buds were eaten off by deer, and little holes at the base provided warmth and more nutrition for little critters. 

The green-blue scaly stuff along the trunk was an interesting discussion on lichens, as Barrie explained to us how they form and what important roles they play in both the history of plant evolution as well as our present day habitat. Fascinating.

 

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We had the chance to explore some of the winter weeds with their intricate seed patterns. This bean-like plant is actually a milkweed – Dogbane specifically. It has the signature fluff inside the pods, and the stalk makes an exceptionally tough fiber for cordage. This exploration also led us along  more tracks; coyote and bobcat, with some variations on paw size leaving us to wonder if there were a couple of generations.

Inside we created our own journals and taped in our plant specimens with some written details. They all came out so unique and beautiful! And to top it all off, we made delicious snow cream. Yum!

See you tomorrow!

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tylers-cordageThe rain trickled in and out throughout the week, inviting indoor activities. The stalks that have been drying in the rafters throughout the year were brought down for lessons on fiber and cordage. The rhythmical twist of the reverse wrap is hypnotic, a beneficial side effect for those long winter days. stalks-in-rafters

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cordage-varietyleft to right: Nettle, Cattail root, Milkweed, jute, raffia. Nettle proved to be a solid fiber; one loop of nettle cordage joining a rope to a beam held upwards of 100 pounds of weight. Resistant to insects and rot, Nettle fiber can last hundreds of years. Cattail is surprisingly silky, I could easily covet a good pair of cattail long johns! Milkweed is also quite strong, and with the variegation’s of color it makes visually interesting cordage. Jute and raffia serve their purpose as training fiber.

Check out this link for an interesting read on Nettle fiber and some history. Personally, I prefer to eat the leaves as delicious high nutrient food, and dry them for winter infusions for extra energy. But now I know what to do with all the leftover stalks! 

Not to mention it lends itself to deepening friendships…..

friendship

Evolving mentorship…………

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And self satisfaction………..

kaiAs you can see, both the Tuesday Skills and Thursday Pioneers got their hands on the fibers. I hear the lodge is coming along as well, pictures of that to come this week. They have been working hard on their Goldenrod thatched roof!

The Challenge group was sent out on a quest for depth this week, with two initiatives that brought their minds and emotions forward. “Crossover”, an exercise in diversity and self awareness, was skillfully facilitated by Emily, as we all discovered new aspects of each other and ourselves. 

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We rolled right into another fun initiative on the whale watch…..

whale-watch…….where nonverbal communication and sensory awareness are at their peak. The plank must be kept in equal balance as they travel cooperatively around it. In a moment of sheer magic silence, the great blue heron pushed it’s way through the misty air but feet away from the group; a lavish reward for their unified and peaceful efforts. While three of them lunged a pointing finger to alert the others of the visit, not a sound was made as we witnessed the heron weave it’s path above the water line. 

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Lunch covered eating of course, but also some important first aid knowledge on choking and preparing a splint.

The whale watch lead perfectly into putting it’s physics to work. The lever and fulcrum mechanism was translated into moving a large log for use in their rainy day warming fire. Which they needed since the afternoon was spent in resolute stewardship! 

wc-week-9-005This bridge really needed help. Thank You!

….and over at the log cabin, the scouts gathered their things for the returning hike. 

scoutsTheir day included a fun filled series of games including bust-a-move, dear and coyote, and one of my personal favorites adapted from a group dance training process called flocking. This is a really fun sequential movement game which switches leadership in verbal, then nonverbal ways. It gets the kids thinking kinesthetically and on the fly, in a way that fosters self and group awareness simultaneously. 

Kinesthetic learning was carried over into story-time this week, with a pencil creating a ‘story line’ while Joe read another witty tale from the Lao book. The lows, highs, tensions and successes of the story were captured in the abstract art of the Scout’s illustrations. Noteworthy was their capacity to retell the story simply from the memory cues of the wavy lines they drew while listening!

The afternoon was topped off with some wild tea of goldenrod leaves and pine needles and some good mellow journal time.

Friday morning’s show and tell for the Jr. Naturalists consisted of a frozen dead baby pig. Although surely educational, I missed the photo op on that one :). It was a great introduction to the lessons of the day, however, inviting conversation about ethical use of hunted animals, and primitive containers. Following was a fascinating study on Goldenrod galls, which were collected in numbers and then placed in a gall garden to set until spring, when we get to watch them hatch. Galls are a fascinating element to nature’s ingenious and cyclical patterns.

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Plant class took a new angle this week, in order to sharpen observational skills and invite in some art concepts. We took to the field for an exercise in visual perception of depth and varying levels of detail and shape. Specifically we focused on landscape silhouettes, which will serve in the future as an important way to identify different trees. We made a sketch of the silhouette shapes we saw and noted the type of habitat. To engage the idea of contrast, we then overlapped onto our sketches a series of leaf rubbings. The details were beautiful and rewarding to watch emerge from under the waving pencil motions. 

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The afternoon activity was a fun craft of cleaning and preparing gourds for rattles. Connection to the earlier discussion of primitive containers was made. The painting of the gourds included a layer of history, referencing old ways of storytelling through cave paintings and symbolic prints on objects. Each gourd was to become their own personal story of Great Hollow, told through color, shape, and symbol.

matthewLate Friday I spent a few minutes with the Micro Scouts, who were quick to give me a delightful run for my money. They articulated the similarities noticed between lamb’s ears and the large leaf of a mullein plant. Above you can see the animated punctuation.

zoeA celebrated moment spontaneously after stringing hand painted beads onto twine. 

tuckerAnd authentic, primal expression. 

What could be better at that age?

See you all at graduation!

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Treasures on a Hike

  A simple hike at Great Hollow is never boring. Like a few weeks ago when Andy and I saw a wild mink on the trail. Yesterday we took some friends on a short welcome tour through the Hollow, in the bright sunshine and the lush landscape of August. The river was lower than usual, but crystal clear, showing off the water-polished stones and the wriggly little fish on their way to somewhere important.

Lobelia cardinalis

 

The landscape smells so peculiar now, with odd notes of sharp citronella-lime from the Walnut trees, and various loamy wood aromas from fallen trees and animal homes. 

By the bridge we spotted this beauty – our Native Lobelia cardinalis, or Cardinal flower. A sister to the blue flowering Lobelia inflata, both species have been used by Native American as a remedy for lung ailments, usually as a tea or chewed fresh. The latter inflata species is also called ‘pukeweed’, as a reminder not to eat the seeds unless you need a fast emetic. One leaf however, can be chewed for it’s pungent taste to alleviate a headache or congestion in the throat. A carrier of alkaloids, you’d want to stop there. Dinner can be harvested around the corner in the giant Nettles patch!

Lobelia inflata

Lobelia inflata

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