June 7, 2019
Waxing Crescent Moon
Lake Lagunitas

 

A beautiful sunshiny day greeted us at Lake Lagunitas as we gathered for a celebration of our magical year together. Our final day at Tender Tracks, and we were blessed by many Parents attending. I know that Ruby and I were feeling the playful reverence of the day and so much gratitude for the gift of these sweet Fridays with the Raccoon Children.

While Ruby set the snack circle, I began churning the whipped cream. Soon, the children began to arrive and show the Parents all their favorite places. Many children came to help at the churn, excited for a whipped cream topping at snack! It was so lovely to see all the Parents connecting and chatting and playing together. Many got to bask in the Sunny Meadow, assess if the Climbing Tree would allow them to ascend, and feel the coziness of the Redwood Raccoon Home, and perhaps explore where the Mud Monster plays. I know that everyone could see how the children truly thrive on the land.

Ruby played the song to call everyone for snack and I had a moment of realization that this would be our last call to snack and story circle. I savored the moment of watching the children run from wherever they were exploring to come together with all of us, leading the Parents, as well. A large and loving circle opened with our favorite songs and rhymes of sunshine, rabbits, robins, and little ones beneath the ground. I was happy to reprise my role as the Rabbit Hole and get some hugs from the wee Rabbits!

We feasted on a delicious cake that Wendolyn made for us, with fresh whipped cream and sweet raspberries. We told the story of the Raccoon Children through the seasons and many Tender Trackers recognized their own adventures and favorite places, meeting the Yellow Jacket Sisters, cooking in the forest, the Pirate Ship, creek play, and finding signs of spring with their friends.

Later, we all joined in a game of Fire in the Forest, and the Parents caught on quickly, though not all could outrun Ruby! It was so fun to share a favorite game with everyone and hopefully it will be played at home or on other adventures. Thank you Parents, for fully committing to whatever your animal character was, I appreciate all of your willingness to be silly and to fully embrace the experience with the children.

Soon it was time for our special celebration ceremony. The children were with Ruby and she shared a sweet song to lead them to their special blanket by the creek:

Sun and Rain unite, give birth

A Rainbow circling the Earth

The new dream we shall all take part

The Rainbow lives within our heart

Meanwhile, the Parents and I shared gratitude for Tender Tracks and the Parents prepared to receive the children from across the bridge. Another moment of deep gratitude and emotion for me, as I saw in each Parent’s face, both the childlike quality of openness to the moment, as well as their own children’s faces in their features. It was incredible to look out and see your children’s eyes and smiles mirrored in your own and to know that the love for the land will continue to be fostered and shared in your families.

I joined Ruby and the children on the other side of the creek and before we sent them each with their special bag, Ruby shared:

Over the Rainbow bridge I go

Into a land I soon will know

Where trust will show me many new ways

To laugh and learn and simply play

I will lift my voice in song

And dance and dance and dance along

Each child crossed the bridge to be gathered into the arms of loving Parents, then Ruby and I crossed together into the big hugs of Raccoon Children!! The children each received a Guardian of Safety kit with items to care for injured friends, their own Weather Watcher stick that they took time to choose and whittle, and a bandana to receive handprints of friends to always remember, the bag itself is a Guardian of the Earth bag for collecting trash and caring for the land, with their special Nature symbol from Tender Tracks. We hope that these tools, and the others they have learned and cultivated at Tender Tracks continue to serve them, their communities, and the Land.

As a group, we all pressed our hands into vibrant rock paint to place friendly pawprints on each other’s bandanas (hand-anas!) Then, children’s own ‘tender tracks’ were traced on their Guardians of Earth bags by Parents, and I thought that soon their footprints won’t fit on those bags as their feet grow and take them on new adventures! Feet were soon wet and muddy as children explored the creek and became Muddy Buddies.

We gathered again for lunch and shared two lunch songs and many gratitudes for this magical program. Thank you Wendolyn for making Tender Tracks a reality (and being the Parent of Tender Tracks.) Thank you Parents for sharing your wonderful children with us. Thank you Ruby for being a true partner in learning and leading. Thank you ALL for your support and dedication to connecting children with the natural world.

There was plenty more creek play and connection time and many more muddy feet. Favorite sticks were found and bark was poked and harvested, we played some sneak and hide among the trees. Ruby and I gave Blake a secret Birthday Story scroll, as he has a summer birthday. He chose his special Birthday stone and his parents will share his story with him in August. (The countdown is on!)

It was time for farewells and we smiled for pictures at Juniper Rose, hugged and wished everyone well. Wendolyn, Ruby, and I rode down the hill and reflected on the day. Wendolyn departed and we thanked her again for all she has created.

At the end of the day, it was just Ruby and me on Juniper Rose. We sat and looked around quietly, taking in the last moments. And then we shared our gratitudes for the day: blue Sky, warm Sun, each other as Teachers and Friends, all the Parents and Grandparents and Raccoon Children for making the program possible, and the community we’ve built together. Thank you Lake Lagunitas for holding us all year with Wind, Water, Soil and Trees. All the Love.

 

May 31, 2019
Waning Crescent Moon
Lake Lagunitas

 

What a marvelous sunny morning we had! We played by the horse trough, which we hadn’t visited in awhile and were rewarded with a small green tree frog that Violet spotted! It was perfectly camouflaged in the green grass, I don’t know how she saw it. I walked up and she was silently pointing to the grassy ground, and once my eyes focused I saw the little critter. Charlie reached to catch it and was able to and it jumped quickly from her hands, Violet also tried to catch and hold it but our frog friend had other ideas and hopped away.

We missed Rohan and Blake and are looking forward to hearing tales from their travels. Raccoon Family play began, and all were immersed. The horse trough provided space for many Raccoon giggles and splashes. Raccoon Miles played baseball with a pinecone, which was tricky to hit with his stick bat but he succeeded many times. Later, Violet, Charlie and Ruby were snacking on Rattlesnake Grass and then Ruby and Violet took turns sneaking up on one-another.

We had a lovely Snack Café and heard the story of Turtle when he tried to fly with Duck and Goose, and why he has a patterned shell. After snack, there was more water play at the trough and shoes and socks were thrown aside as many Tender Trackers found they could roll up their pants and stand in the trough. I helped make some boats that we floated in the water and the children added many ‘passengers’ of cones, grass and lichen to their boats.

Siena, Margot and Violet all worked on finishing their Weather Sticks and practiced their knife skills with Ruby. They also used rocks with edge to further smooth their sticks. Then, their special feather chose them and I helped tie it to their stick.

Some children were very wet so we decided to have lunch in the sunny meadow near the creek. I brought some blankets from Juniper Rose so we could picnic and get cozy, warm and dry from Grandpa Sun. The children were very happy to have lunch and cuddle in the blankets and soon they were all being the babies to Siena as Mom. She was giving them each their water bottle like a baby bottle and being a very doting Mother (and all the children were well hydrated!) The little babies began to get into mischief and run from the blanket so Mom Siena had to chase and corral the babies back together. It was much silly fun with barefoot ‘babies’ running about and Siena calling ‘Sweetie! Come back! Honey!” as she ran after them.

Everyone ended up at the creek’s edge for climbing on rocks and finding other rocks to throw into the water for big splashes.

At the end of our day, on Juniper Rose we had so much gratitude for the Sun and Sky, Trees, Blankets, Frog, Water Play and Each Other!!

May 24, 2019
Waning Moon
Lake Lagunitas

 

The day started out cloudy and we headed to the usually sunny meadow to begin our play. Siena, Charlie, Violet and Margot found a newt and made sure to get their hands extra dirty to hold it, so it would feel most comfortable. They shared their find with Blake, Miles and Rohan, too. Soon they were building a little home out of sticks and leaves for the newt.

At snack we remembered all our favorite songs and sang them together. We remembered all the way back to some of our favorite fall and Halloween pumpkin songs, some more recent bug songs, our favorite chickadee-dee-dee song and, of course, Dirt Made My Lunch. Ruby told us the story of How Snake Came To Be and we got a special surprise during our circle as Ms. Krempetz came to visit! She brought her sweet dog, Zephyr, and we learned that his name means ‘gentle breeze’ and he really was a kind and gentle dog.

The children were very excited to show Ms. Krempetz and Zephyr all of their favorite spots in the forest and creek. They showed her how they crawl across the logs to get to the far side of the creek, and shimmied up the tilted trees on the other side. Charlie made rock paint and painter her own face, as well as Ms. Krempetz’s face! They even got a chance to walk Zephyr with his leash a bit and give their teacher a tour of Juniper Rose! It was such a fun treat to have her with us and share our ‘classroom’ as the whole RVNS crew were so welcoming when Ruby and I recently visited.

Our big puddle has returned with the recent rains and Miles went to put his rain boots on so he could splash with Blake and Charlie in the muddy water. Many sticks were thrown in for big splashes and delight. The sun was out by mid-morning and any muddy dampness was quickly dry.

Margot had left her fleece on the other side of the creek, so I went with her to retrieve it before lunch and we got to see Cormorant come to the pool near the waterfall. It flew upstream and paddled on the surface of the water before ducking and diving and swimming underwater to catch the fish hiding there! We watched the fish swim away and try to camouflage with the rocks, like a tag game we like to play. Cormorant caught a fish and soon swam and flew away, just as our friends were running over to invite us for lunch. Margot and I came to the lunch circle with stories of Cormorant and the Fish.

At lunch we played ‘I Spy’ and after lunch all the children were engaged with Royal Family play. Blake and I found a sneaky Banana Slug, which turned out to be his gratitude later when we shared.

Blake, Miles, Rohan and Charlie all worked on whittling their Weather Sticks with me and Ruby. When they completed their sticks, they then chose a special feather to tie on that will catch the wind and help them to see the changes in the weather.

As our day ended on Juniper Rose, we were grateful for Fish, Banana Slug, story box, Roly Poly, sunshine and blue sky and fun stick play with friends.