Friday, December 26, 2008

Sit Spot: A New Year/Solstice Resolution

Merry Christmas to everyone! I hope your holiday, however you choose to celebrate, was full of health and happiness. We had a wonderful, adventuresome day: after opening presents, we ventured out for a traditional beach walk, which lasted only a short while due to heavy rain, hail, and cold, cold wind. After nap, we paid a visit to our wonderful friends and neighbors, Jen, Blase, Ossian, Nola, and Jen's mom and stepdad. We shared a delicious meal with them (THANK YOU!), and then traveled on to the sauna to sweat out all the junk food we'd consumed all day.

Today dawned with more blue sky than clouds, at last. It's been many days since we've had a day so nice! It was the perfect day to introduce Ella to the "Sit Spot" routine! Over the last several years, I have off and on been pursuing a self-guided natural history curriculum, called Kamana, offered through the Wilderness Awareness School in Duvall, Washington. I've fallen off the wagon several times, the most recent fall being due to our move here coupled with giving birth to Ella.

But thanks to Drew, I am climbing back on, in pursuit of that elusive goal that I can feel but can't see, out there in the forest ether. It is a goal that is something like wanting to feel myself part of the fabric of animals, birds, plants, water, and everything else that converges on our specific place here, to be able to hear a sound a know that it means a coyote is slinking through the underbrush, or to be able to find food in any season or weather. I'm looking for indigenous knowing of this land, and all it's faces.

How did Drew help me climb back on? As a Christmas gift, he bought me Wilderness Awareness School's "No Child Left Inside" package, which includes three books: Last Child in the Woods, by Richard Louv, Sharing Nature With Children, by Joseph Cornell, and Coyote's Guide to Connecting With Nature, For Kids of All Ages and their Mentors, by Jon Young (Wilderness Awareness School's founder), Ellen Haas, and Evan McGown. What better way to help me reconnect with my goals and desires than to encourage me to share it with Ella.

The Sit Spot routine is the core of the Kamana program, and basically involves choosing a place, close to your home, that you can visit every single day, in all kinds of weather, at all times of year. You go there and practice awareness exercises. Over time, you begin to have some odd, and at first, seemingly random experiences. Though I've not yet mastered the routine, and have always had trouble going every day, I did it enough at one time to begin to have strange and coincidental encounters with animals, like deer, squirrels, chickarees, and birds. You begin to notice things you somehow missed before.

So this morning, I asked Ella to go on a special walk with me to a sit spot. We talked about being quiet and listening and feeling, and smelling and looking at everything. And we walked quietly to the spot I've chosen, down the hill behind the yurt, into the forest, next to an old charred log, next to a bay tree, with a wonderful view of the lower meadow by the creek, and the wet seepy area below one of our springs. It's perfect. We crept in there, and sat together, listening for birds, drinking in the rushing sound of the full creek after all the rain of the last few days. We touched some yellow jelly fungus, and some stiff capped mushrooms that were growing out of the log. And after she got bored and couldn't sit still, we went on a little walkabout, to look for some deer, to play in the creek, and to see what else we could find. It was lovely, to wander with no agenda, and to find unmelted hail unexpectedly, and to follow a deer trail, hoping to find them. Ella was remarkably quiet and attentive the whole time. I would call it, unabashedly, a complete success.

So we'll be sit spotting every day, from now on. Who wants to join me?


jllz said...

after seeing you all today I remembered to go and check out your blog! Neat to read more about what you are thinking about and pursing these inspiring reminder of being reinvigorated at the solstice... Have a wonderful trip!

Erica said...

I love the Books you got!! You will love them all!