How amazing that the rain held off until after our program time! A big welcome to our new families. To the families who weren’t able to join us yesterday, we missed you, and look forward to your return — hopefully next month!
Our day was an adventure into the life of salmon, into our interwoven world — and the incredible way in which Salmon feeds so many — the creatures of the ocean, the animals, trees, and more of the forest and stream, as well as ourselves! During the course of our time together we experienced the difficult life of the salmon in a game called “Salmon Upstream” in which salmon attempt to swim upstream without being caught by Bear in the water, and River Otter and Wolf on the shore! Once tagged a salmon nourishes the the animals, water, and forest, and the person tagged ceases to be a salmon but becomes a tree in the water, providing pockets of safety for other salmon heading up or downstream …. What other hazards to Salmon face during their lives, birth to death, in river and in ocean? How might a salmon evade capture? What senses and abilities does a salmon have that allow it to survive to return to its birthplace — to then spawn and to die? How does a salmon find its way home? A wonder question for you to explore with your family in any way you please: “What inside us ‘knows the way home’?'”
Salmon are spawning in our island creeks! Our location provided us with a wonderful opportunity to not only explore and wander a beautiful forest, but to discover if we too could spot a salmon. We learned the importance of listening, moving quietly especially near the water, and of being still with our senses open. We learned about what we might look for when hoping to see salmon (alive or dead!), and the importance of staying out of the water (in order to protect the eggs and salmon). Then we had the opportunity to practice salmon watching as families — sitting and perceiving in a place by the creek for 15 minutes, just as the salmonwatchers do when engaging in salmon research on the island.
Even without spotting a salmon (though one family did see some!) there was plenty to notice and experience in that forest, and plenty that you all did notice, whether you realize it or not! A fun thing to do might be to go back to that time and place with your family. You might take a moment to say: “Remember how yesterday we …” walked into that forest full of big leaf maples and evergreens, watched those big leaves from so high above … heard the rushing sound of the creek, felt the soft leaves under our boots … Just bring yourselves back to that place and time to whatever your family chose to do.
Whether you sat by the stream or enjoyed time exploring the forest you can ask yourself and your family these kinds of questions: what did you experience? What caught your attention? Can you recall the smell and feel of the air? What were the sounds? What feelings within you arose?
We humans have the amazing ability to perceive on many levels. You may all discover that you recall more than you might think! Not only that, and you may uncover something rich in your experience that speaks especially and uniquely to you.
Whether you were able to join us yesterday or not, you can practice this kind of exploration of experience with your family. When you’re next outside together, or after a Thanksgiving gathering — or any time you share that feels connective, you can gently bring yourselves back into that moment and memory, and open your senses to what you might have noticed without realizing it. Let yourself to be gently inquisitive, and invite that in your family. Be relaxed and playful with the notion, and see what you all discover together.