Posted by: wolfcampcollege | March 1, 2010

Wolf Journey Study Day – Chris FE 004 – Sprung!

Wolf Journey Journal Cover Page for Field Exercise # 004

Name of Field Exercise: Appreciating Your Study Site

Date & Time of Study Site Visit: 1400, March 1, 2010

Plants, Animals, Minerals Experienced Today: (make up a name / give it a number if unsure)  Okay, spring is booming here, like it usually booms on April 1st. Check this out:

Birds on my suet feeder. Can you identify the species?

The genus is Galium. Can you identify the species?

Name two plant species coming up here.

These are two wonderfully medicinal root crops! I'll give it to you that they are dock and dandelion species, but what are each of the roots used for?

These don't have the full 7 or so compound leaves fully unfolded yet, but is that enough of a hint as to the species, if not genus?

Check out last year's leaf not fully dropped, yet the new ones are unfolding. Here's a hint: the catkins are dropping off now after having pollenated last month.

Here's a giveaway: it's our first fruit-bearing shrub in the spring.

Very cool spot in the park. Check out the flowering plant to the right ... it's our first native to leaf-out and flower in the spring. In the middle background is an "old" plant leafing out. Who are they?

Speaking of "getting old" hints. Who could this plant be?

Where Seen, Status and/or Health, if known:

I also watched the cherries blossom over the course of yesterday, with the ornamentals turning bright pink, and the native Black Cherry turning white. The blossoms came out a few days ago closer to the salt water, so it looks like we have a week’s lag time here as compared to the coast.

Description and/or Drawing/Photo of Individual, Track or Sign: Today was time for appreciating my study site. Here’s my thanksgiving:

People: I want to give thanks to my wonderful wife for inspiring me to build Wolf Camp and the Wolf College back into a year-round program, among so many other personal reasons. I also want to appreciate my parents for all the trust, however understandably reluctant at times, they gave as I developed Wolf Camp over the past few years, as well as all the great guidance they bestowed over my entire life. I want to thank all my students, both those who are attending our new classes, as well as those who passed through over time. This would be nothing without you to learn alongside. I guess I have to skip a million people, but I can’t end without mentioning the beautiful synchronistic networking which has occurred of late: being welcomed into the nascent permaculture community of Pierce county; being asked to post workshops at the Seattle Backpackers site; being asked to organize help for the building of a traditional pit home; being asked to run a rite of passage field trip for a graduating out-of-state Waldorf class; being welcomed at Wolf Haven to run camps; and among other things, ending up right here in the hometown of my uplifting in-laws, where Wolf Camp and the Wolf College are being provided with a great place to thrive on private and public lands!

Earth: It’s interesting to put down roots somewhere. To do it, you end up digging in the earth. We needed to carve out a few extra feet for the driveway, pull out a tree that was fallen on the garage, dig soil samples to test what we need for our garden, etc. etc. We are the earth. The physical bodies which house us animals, plants … everything is a mineral from the earth, activated by stored solar energy, and coordinated by mysterious dimensions which quantum physics only begins to explain. To me all these things are the Divine, and to me, the earth is alive; really, alive as we are.

Waters: We live in wetlands, and are surrounded by waterworks which gather all the runoff from the entire south hill above Puyallup, send it around to the fish hatchery two blocks south of us, then into the creek which arises from artisian springs popping out. God help us if those waterworks fail during a flood. Then to the north is a ditch dug through the middle of town, originating somewhere under the fairgrounds as far as I can tell, and sending all the valley water into the creek downstream. Seems to have worked for 100 years, and the 4 species of salmon which return to spawn each fall seem to like all that flowage. Let’s hope a massive earthquake, like the recent ones in Haiti and Chile, do not come soon, nor an explosion of Tahoma (Mt. Rainier), which would send a Lahar torrent of cement over the top of us; well, most of the valley maybe. Ah, life. Maybe water can teach us to flow with it.

Plants: From the tiniest of algea, to the greatest of trees, there is a purpose for each to exist, just as there is a purpose for each of us to exist. What is the gift of the cedar? What is my gift? I guess most recently, I have been mostly thinking about the current essay I’m writing on the “most important plants”. Of course, no one is more important than any other, but if you were going to start learning about plants, where would you start? Here’s what I’ve been thinking: Top 10 Plants

Animals: From the tiniest of protozoa, to the the ancient dinosaurs, we learn so much, and are given companionship, reflections on our own personality, food, tools, clothing, medicine, protection, challenges, comfort, work … so, so much. The birds have been most prominent in my life lately, and as I sit here, I see goldfinches starting to develop their spring plumage; house finches chatting at the feeder; robins singing for the past week at dawn and calling at dusk and getting the birds going on this year’s chorus; bushtits flocking to the suet; bewick’s wren singing delighfully; winter wren booming from the forest; juncos returning after one of their own died in the beak of a sharp-shinned hawk, like another did in the jaws of a mustelid who left its scat in the yard this weekend among that of our darling dog.

Skies: Ah, the weather this year. I’m thinking that it’s an El Nino with global warming combo, because the other severe El Nino years since the 70s have been nearly as warm, but increasingly so. I guess we’ll have to go with the flow, but my heart goes out to all those who are being severely effected by the changes. We’ll really need to work hard to care for everyone around the world. Here, the weather is fair, and moon is gorgeous, the sun is getting higher each day, the winds are warm, the air quality is improving some, and I feel thankful for the life which is given in each breath I now take.

Beyond: Let’s hand it to the Creator for such an incredible laboratory for learning and growing toward love.

Approx Temperature when you were at study site, plus today’s high and low, if known: 60f high, 35f low

Wind direction and strength when you were at study site, plus other wind factors today if known: Gusty today, from the westsouthwest. Warm system blowing in clouds.

Describe any precipitation and cloud cover while at study site and at other times today if known: Clear last night; light cloud cover today. No precip since a week ago, when it rained a good amount.

Approx. Humidity while at study site, plus any changes you noticed: 50% give or take differences due to temperature during the day.

Barometric Pressure, if known: 29.95 falling

Ground water level, lake/stream/river level, or tides: 1.0 foot under surface again, although it was at the surface last week when raining.

Degrees above the southern horizon the sun was at noon (1 p.m. DST), or where it rose or set on the horizon as viewed from your study site: It was wonderful to watch the sun come up over the horizon just south of east, as it’s only a couple weeks from the equinox. From my sit spot, it’s coming up through the neighbor’s willow tree, and setting over the last couple houses edging the park. The sun is getting higher at noon; actually it’s at its zenith at about 12:21 or so standard time at this longitude. It reached 35.14 degrees above the southern horizon today.

Phase of the moon, and where it rose or set on the horizon as viewed from your secret place, or degrees above the southern horizon at midnight (or 1 a.m. DST): We’re just past full yesterday, and the nights have been beautiful with moon shine, rainbow colors round it, etc. Interestingly, it reached its azimuth of 48.7 degrees above the horizon, when it was full right about midnight Saturday night/Sunday morning.

Describe and/or draw in any extra space above the arrangement of the planets you saw in the sky (and if possible, what constellations were overhead, rising or setting) and at what time of night: Haven’t noticed much of a shift yet since last entry, but I better watch as the world is turning!

Were you prepared for this field exercise? Did you start and complete it at good times? Did you accomplish what you set out to do? Not quite done yet!

Write if and/or how you are progressing toward the goals you wrote before this chapter. What were your best achievements and greatest challenges today out in the field, while studying, or while working on a Wolf Journey project. Name at least one achievement. Looking forward to re-mapping my site next week!

How are your physical health, emotional feelings and mental attitude today? It may be best to put any further feelings about yourself or others in your diary, unless it has to do with a large turning point in your life as an earth skills specialist. Feeling good. Going for a run right when I’m done!

Further observations, field experiences, uses and research of species/minerals studies: Looking forward to studying the animals and trails and such during April, as tracking will be the subject of Wolf Journey classes. Gotta create some housing habitat for the mustelid, coons, possums, etc. visiting under the house!

Further comments on your your goals, achievements, or planned research if you need to do additional work or study site time before completing this field exercise: I wrote my goals out! Check out the blog entry preceeding this one.

Additional drawings, photoes, etc:

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