March 22, 2019
Waning Moon
Lake Lagunitas

We were welcomed by another wet and rainy morning at Lake Lagunitas, but Tender Trackers are professional rain-rompers and were unfazed by the damp day. We started by meeting the butter churn that would help make our morning snack. Ruby reminded us of the story from last week about Sean O’Hoolihan and Mrs. O’Malley and making ‘gold’ in the butter churn. All of the children got many a turn at the churn, chanting like Sean in the story; “Chuggity clump! Chuggity clump! I’m making gold – a great big lump!!” It took all morning of taking turns among me, Ruby and all of the children, and by snack time we had a delicious lump of golden butter to spread on fresh bread. It was truly a treat and there was much appreciation for the hard work, time and effort spent on making it.

Miles and I made an obstacle course from some found objects and added some sticks, logs and rocks. We invited our Tender Tracks friends to try it out, and everyone had their own style of hopping, walking and balancing through the course.

Charlie and I found a banana slug and a newt and then made a small forest home for a creature. She spent a lot of time on the details of arranging sticks for a mattress, small stones for seats, and finding moss for food. Any small creature would be cozy in the home she built. Rohan, Blake and Miles used sticks to test the depth of the creek and searched for newts. Blake found a long, curved stick for ‘catching’ and herded his friends with it in a new game while Violet, Siena and Margot played princesses in the forest.

We headed up the spillway steps to explore and see if there were any turtles. No turtles today, but we did have lunch at the table overlooking the lake. It got cold and rainy during lunch so we decided to go play some running games down in the coverage of the trees.

We played ‘fire in the forest’ again and chose our animals and took turns asking questions and running from Ruby and other friends. Then some children started a game of ‘duck, duck, goose’ while Violet suggested ‘hide and seek’ so Violet, Rohan, Miles and I started to play and soon the ‘duck, duck, goose’ crew came to join in! Violet began by counting and Ruby, the children, and I all hid. When Violet found me first I burst out and began to run away, but she corrected me that when she finds someone, they then help find the others. So that’s what we did. It was the sweetest game of hide and seek I’ve ever played.

We played a few more rounds and in the last round, none of us could find Ruby! Charlie had the idea that we should hide from her, and if we had more time, I think we all would have hidden in the forest (I am curious how long they’d all hide from each other!) But we didn’t have to worry about losing Ruby because Miles and Blake found her!

Back on Juniper Rose, snuggled under blankets, we shared all we loved from the day, including newts, a banana slug, good friends, rain and, of course, a lump of gold to eat! We hope you all enjoyed the fresh butter we sent home with your Tender Tracker!

March 15, 2019
Quarter Moon
Lake Alpine

 

What a magically sunshiny day! We were all so happy for warm weather and a day to dry out. Grandpa Sun was high and smiling in the sky and we were joyful to splash in the water!

We arrived to Lake Alpine and Charlie exclaimed, “Look at that big puddle!” the children were all very excited for some ‘big puddle’ play.

The hills were green and fresh with wildflowers dotting here and there. Everyone climbed up the big rock to overlook the lake and search for signs of spring. We spotted a heron perfectly mirrored in the lake’s reflection, and line of turtles perched on a log in the middle of the water. Siena found some small purple flowers which led to her becoming a Flower Fairy with friend Margot.

Miles, Rohan and Blake were busy launching large logs into the lake. Some were gently floated out, some were thrown by many hands working together. Blake challenged me to chuck a big piece of wood into the water, it was a great big splash which we both enjoyed!

At snack we heard the story of Sean O’Hoolihan and Mrs. O’Malley and the milk she churned into golden butter. We enjoyed crackers and rice cakes covered in sunflower butter and raisins and sang about our favorite birds, robin, crow, nuthatch and chickadee-dee-dee!

On our adventure, we went to look at the spillway we slid on a few months ago and found water flowing down making it slippery and wet. We decided to head down another trail and get closer to the lake and sneak up quietly to look for turtles. We all quieted our voices and feet, and as we approached we spotted a log with nineteen turtles on it!

The lake was calling to rain-booted feet and soon many children were playing in the water. We also added to a spiral of stones that was made by other Tender Trackers earlier in the week, Ruby found a crescent moon shaped rock and Violet added it to the center of the spiral. Many children removed boots and socks to enjoy the chilly water on their feet and lovely mud between toes.

We had lunch looking at the lake and enjoying the warm sun and beautiful views. While we had lunch, more turtles joined the log and by time we were done eating there was a total of twenty-two turtles!!

Water play continued and small, flat wooden boats were launched with treasures aboard and sticks were used as paddles and pushers. Ruby pulled a giant log closer to shore and almost all of the children climbed aboard while Violet and I snuggled onshore. Violet noticed butterflies flitting by, and we could see some of the turtles in the water near the log.

On our walk back to Juniper Rose, Miles was leading Rohan (and soon Blake) in a game of Red Light, Green Light. Siena, Charlie and Ruby held hands as they walked together. Back on Juniper Rose, we snuggled under blankets and shared our gratitude for orange butterflies, big logs, water and sunshine!

heron reflection

turtles on a log

 

March 8, 2019
Waxing Crescent Moon
Lake Lagunitas

 

As soon as we hopped off of Juniper Rose at Lake Lagunitas, the children immediately spotted newts in the deep puddles and creek by our parking spot. We then headed to the sunny meadow by our climbing tree. All the children were checking on their favorite spots, and Raccoon Mom Margot made sure the Raccoon Home was ready for her family.

Ruby and Miles played a game of throwing small rocks through a looped branch, working on aim and accuracy. While Siena helped me set up the mats for snack, she spotted another sign of spring – tall purple flowers! We are so excited by all the telltale signs of warmer weather on its way!

At snack time we all got to enjoy a sweet treat brought by Violet, the birthday girl! I told the story of star (and moon) child Violet and her adventures leading up to turning 5 and we wished on all her adventures yet to come.

Grandmother North and Grandfather South played all day and we got sprinkles of rain, and warm sun, and some chilly cloud cover, and then sunshine back and forth! We played a game too, with lots of back and forth running! Each child chose a secret animal to become and Ruby would call out different attributes of the animal and if it applied to their animal they would run and try not to get tagged. We played many rounds of being local animals, fantastical animals and imaginary animals. We were foxes, deer, unicorns, bobcats and more.

We adventured a different way around the lake today up the trail to the stone steps. On our walk, Charlie and Siena would turn into rocks right on the trail so I had to knock on them and say, “Knock knock, rock! Please join me on my walk!” for them to magically come alive and continue on. Rohan was on a search for turtles in the sunshine near the lake.

We got to a lovely spot and found a wonderful tree to explore, the roots were upended and the branches were in the water so we got to climb on top of the root ball and also walk out over the water on the trunk. There was a heron sitting near the water and we held very still just like it so we could get a closer look.

The tree trunk became a highway of crawling and walking and scooting around branches and each other. The children practiced their balance and climbing skills and we found that all the children could fit (along with me) atop the roots!

We had a listening lunch where we tried to keep our voices whispery, or off, to better hear the sounds of springtime around us. We heard Woodpecker calling, our own munching, the breeze in the trees, some mysterious bird song, and our friends’ whispers. Blake and I created a small town with rock towers, stick borders, acorn boats, lichen trees, leaf umbrellas and acorn cap homes.

We had a silly walk and run back to Juniper Rose to share our gratitudes for sunshine (and sprinkles,) a big log to climb, the heron and newts! We even looked for more signs of spring on our ride back to Peri Park.

 

Siena’s sign of Spring!

 

our little nature town