Finding your way in any landscape brings a sense of freedom and adventure. Think about those salty sailors guiding their ships upon the open seas, figuring out their position and course with knowledge of geometry and astronomy, and the use of special instruments. Or imagine wilderness explorers pouring over detailed maps to track their progress on a trail, or find the nearest water source.
But what would it be like to rely on your own internal compass, free from navigational aids? How would you feel if you could trust yourself to take a short walk or even a long adventure, and return to your starting point without needing a compass, a map, or your iphone?
Here are our three favorite Aidless Navigation Techniques to help you and your kids flow with the increased energy of Springtime and head out on adventures of your own, building trust and relaxation as you wander and explore:
In this technique, you create markers along your route to show you the way back to your starting point. Here are some simple ways to create markers along your trail:
Break small branches (but don’t endanger the plant or tree)
Make a little pile of rocks
Place a branch on the ground
Tie a little string to a branch
Be careful to always point the marker you created toward the direction that you should return.
Three Object Sighting
This technique helps you to travel in a straight line toward your destination and back to your starting point. It uses three objects to find your way: an object in back of you, an object in front of you, and your final destination. It works best on a short hike, or when you have a clear view from the original sighting in back of you and in front of you.
First, identify an object behind you at your starting point.
Next, find an object in front of you (the marker) and your final destination.
Walk toward your marker.
Now choose another marker ahead of you, and keep the current marker behind you as you walk toward your destination.
Once you get to your destination, use the same technique in reverse.
Watch out for veering off course. When the object in front of you appears to the left of your final destination, you are traveling off course to the right of your final destination. When the object in front of you appears to the right of your final destination, your are traveling off course to the left of your final destination.
How do Indigenous Australians navigate vast distances across the landscape? They sing or re-enact the story of how the original route, or “Songline,” was formed by the “creator-being.” As the traveler sings or re-enacts the story of how the path was created, they actually describe various landmarks on the landscape, and find their way.
Our idea is similar. Choose a notable landmark and make up a name for it. Funny ones are remembered best. For example, a Madrona tree branch jutting way out across the path might be named “The Madrona Stretch,” or a rock with moss on one side might be called “The Half-Shaved Hairy Troll.” The point is to find something unique about the natural feature and give it a name that will stick in your mind. Then make up a story or a song about it as you travel from one feature to the next. Sing or tell the story in reverse to find your way back. Remember: only name more “permanent” features that will not disappear with a gust of wind or a heavy rain!
What a day of interesting behaviors and sounds!
We started off with some humans making nests. I wonder what the secret ingredients were? Others were “only safe” from a running horse if? Then Raven came to let us know about all the chitter chatter in bird land. Who was that Raven anyway? And before we knew it, the forest was filled with Jays robbing nests and other birds banding together to scare the Jays away, and a troll like creature that counted in it’s sleep. Hopefully they didn’t scare our special visiting guests away. Whew.
Lunch time found us clumped in the meadow sunshine, in-groups that shifted and blended with the conversations. These groups then re-arranged into clans that shifted from making noises to inviting the sounds of the birds around. Some walked exactly in the steps of those in front of them, with nary a sound. Some studied the sound pattern of a percussive bird. How would you make that sound? Many sat still for a long time and heard the bird conversation change from noisy warnings to gentle chatter and songs. I wonder whose songs they heard, and what birds they actually saw? Were they a long ways away? Or within reach?
I also wonder what it would feel like to be a song in the throat of a tiny bird that makes its way out, dancing into a big sound that travels across field and forest? Or what it feels like to be a child stepping out from their home/nest into that field and forest?
Our Friday last week was chock full of wonder and wildness! We began our day down by the waters, in company with Canada Geese, Bald Eagles, and other wildfolk.
We engaged in a new game known as Scout Foxes. We divided up into teams, established our bases, and then the fun began. Running around like Coyote, being stealthy like Bobcat, we allowed our wild animals to come forth! Some of us dived into mud, while others got stuck in the very same! Adventures were had, bonds were deepened, and memories were made.
Alas, Scout Foxes was not all the fun to be had! Some of us remained with the fire, stoking the hearth of our home away from home. Nature drawings were born, cordage was woven, and some us deepened our knowledge as tenders of fire.
As the day came to a close, we wandered down to the shores, met and saved a Starfish, gathered and molded clay, and some of us were even brave enough to dip our lower legs into the icy cold sea!
Ah but there’s more! An animal funeral was held in the morning; drenches, islands & structures were carved into the sand pit. All this and so many other creaturely tales!
I wonder what stories your FireTender could tell of our wild adventures?