The last of the afternoon sun split a paths through the trees with its rays as a last effort to illuminate the woods. Aurora’s small hand in mine pulled mine towards the “Ghost Trees” someplace hidden among the other trees. Her short legs catching every stray branch and thorns in our way. The boys had gone some ways ahead of us marking the trails with their calls. Under every Spruce tree we gathered the dainty cones scattered beneath the evergreen boughs for later fire starters. Off on an adventure, foraging for the medicinal plants needed for healing salves and broths. Anything we thought that might have a purpose for life at the cabin was picked and stuffed into pockets to be examined later.
Walking upon the clearing, four small Spruce stood tall against the elements covered in the long tendrils of Old Man’s Beard. The lichen remained the only vibrant green against the winter coat draped across the ground. It’s wispy sea green fiber threads upon these “Ghost Trees” and Tree Beard’s face of bark were what we had been searching.
We plucked the wispy green beard hairs and wadded them into balls to fit into pockets and carry home. We cut the low infected branches and brought them home as a source of more material. Foraging, is a way to involve the children in “adult work” as their little hands work by digging through the snow to the dirt and picking resin off Spruce bark.
Oh to walk through the woods with children is to see the adventure and wonderment that the trees harbor the way they envision in their imagination! Every tree is a lookout post for the battle that rages at the foot of the hill. Every branch is a hand reaching for a small morsel. The moss a bed for sleeping princess and a bundle of close grown trees her prison. They wander through the woods over fallen trees that serve as bridges, and huddle under boughs for shelter.
As we ventured further for the site of the cabin we searched for “wounded” trees. Trees that might have resin frozen to it’s side provided a necessary ingredient for our healing salves and was sought out for with the diligence as a scout looking for signs of the enemy. It seems as though this enjoyment of the outdoors is rarely ever seen, even in people who claim to be “outdoorsy” and love the earth. It pains me to think that most children do not obtain the proper amount of outdoor play or even exercise in general that they require for their adequate development.
We are creating constant endeavors for our little minds when they do not have the exposure to a dirty introduction to life and adventure. Books and TV can only take them so far to explore their own minds and innovations. It occurs to me that society has done an injustice to children, that their minds have been deprived of creativity and knowledge that outdoor play can provide. The idea is not to point fingers, but to try to open up doors for those who have become fearful and have not been pushed to use natural creativity that blossoms once the threshold of the door is conquered.