Note, this post was written in September for the Living Earth School. It relates my work as an instructor there.
This fall, Living Earth School is running two homeschool programs: In Goochland, Virginia on Tuesdays and in Charlottesville, Virginia on Wednesdays. We are really fortunate in this bioregion to experience fall as a time of great beauty with leaves changing and really mild, pleasant temperatures.
We wanted to share with you an update from a day with the advanced group of our Wednesday class in Charlottesville, as told in photos taken by one of our students, Alex.
This day was a special treat: the instructors decided to scrap the schedule they’d planned for the day and put the day’s activities in the hands of the students: granted they include three elements: gratitude sharing, some sort of challenge, and a sit spot (our tradition of quiet time observing nature.)
The students opted for a wander down to the Rivanna River where one of them led gratitude and all of them ate lunch. Upon arrival, we immediately spotted a red-headed woodpecker, a now-rare treat. Did you know that red-headed woodpeckers catch insects in the air and store acorns and beech nuts in trees? Not your typical woodpecker behavior. Needless to say, our kids were beyond stoked.
Then, it was time for challenges. Students had options: two continued wandering upriver, with the challenge of returning with two new (to them) plant acquaintances. Some students met sycamore and paw paw leaves; others spotted apios americana -or groundnut or hopniss, a native perennial nitrogen fixer with edible tubers and beans- for the first time on this land.
The other option was this: build a raft, and make a fire on it. Bam! this one really cranked up the epic factor. Behold, instructor Erin or Soupy’s masterful take on the challenge.
Needless to say, we were all feeling pretty great as we parted ways for sit spot. A few sitters noticed the redheaded woodpeckers (a pair now!) STILL hanging out in the dead tree. Once the group reconvened, there was another round of ooh’s and ahh’s over this amazing specimen.
That was it, an epic day, self-designed by our advanced group of homeschoolers one lovely warm autumn Wednesday. Thanks for reading, enjoy yourselves out there!