Another beautiful October day! Today we learned how to make cordage. We started out using raffia in order to learn the reverse wrap method.
We practiced splicing in a new piece of raffia in order to increase the length of our ropes while not compromising strength and durability. While our hands were busy, we shared our personal stories with one another and caught up a bit. Then we headed outside to attempt a continuation of the navigation challenge from last month.
We were broken into teams and each given a map of the general area. Using the map we had to find and identify various trees and shrubs (with a little hint – the first letter of the name of the tree). Everyone did a great job! Then we headed over to the fish hatchery down the street and stopped to check out the farmed fish while on our way to collect stinging nettles.
Clark’s Creek runs behind the hatchery and we were able to see several salmon coming upstream to spawn.
One large salmon was near the creek edge and Chris was able to slowly approach and gently hold it so the kids to get a good brief close-up.
We watched from creekside and an overhead bridge before continuing up the trail to visit a spring coming from the hillside.
We gathered nearby and Chris shared the story of how nettles got their green color and their sting (thank you tree frogs and red ants!). Then we spent some time learning how to respectfully harvest nettles with and without gloves (fresh nettles are delicious!) and what time of year they should be used for food, medicine and rope-making.
Everyone did a fabulous job harvesting and we had very few stings! Then we bundled the stalks and headed back to enjoy some stinging nettle tea and learn how to process the rest of the plant.
With our new-found knowledge of making rope (from our raffia practice earlier), we were able to remove the fibers from some previously dried nettle stalks and make nettle cordage! Everyone went away with some stalks to dry and process at home.
Some of the other plants and animals we learned about today: how to identify dogwoods by tearing the leaf, rose-hips and vitamin C, spruce needles and vitamin C, dragonflies, Japanese knotweed, salmon life cycle, salmonberry, youth-on-age (or piggy-back plant), giant bullwhip kelp (harvested on Orcas Island two days prior), belted kingfishers, great blue herons and killdeer.
What a wonderful day we had. See you all next month for an afternoon harvesting and processing willow, and much more!