Thursday, December 4, 2008

Winter Woods

Yesterday we had the blessing of spending yet another day with the Chris and Ashirha Knapp of the Koviashuvik School. This time a large group of us met in Windham at the home of fellow homeschoolers, where the Florman family very generously shared their beautiful land and woods.

The Knapps led us through greeting the day and each other and then we were off on a 1/2 mile walk through the woods, along a pond, over a foot bridge and around bends. There was a dusting of snow and the sun was peeking through the bare-limbed trees. When we arrived at our destination, Chris, with the aid of his two-year old son, Owen, began instructing us on the necessity and challenges of building a personal shelter. Then he divided the kids into three groups to build their own shelters.

The kids all handled the challenges of working together, finding a suitable location and materials and all successfully built sturdy shelters. I think it was apparent to all that it takes an enormous amount of preparedness and effort to keep oneself safe and warm in the woods without the benefit of LLBean.

After shelter building, we were all hungry and were more than happy to meet Ashirah around the fire she built. As we all had lunch, the fire burned down to hot coals which we would use in making burn-out bowls. Every person who wanted to make a bowl was handed a piece of readied fir and then parents helped distribute hot coals to all the kids. Only on a homeschooling adventure would you find adults willingly handing hot coals to children ages 4-teen, and every single child handled the responsibility with ease. (Olivia turned to me at one point and said, "we'd never get to do something like this in school!")

Once everyone had the technique down and a bowl started, we put those aside to cool. Ashirah then passed out clean sticks and sweet dough that we molded onto the ends of our sticks so we could bake a "cattail cookie". I think everyone really liked doing this and it was yet another neat winter woods lesson. Sometimes that lesson was more about how to be patient and let your cookie bake rather than how to bake on the end of a stick, but all the same, lesson learned.

Finally, our cold bones, noses and toes and the late afternoon winter sun setting low in the trees told us it was time to say goodbye to our day with the Knapps. I know my kids are anxious to get more coals ready so they can continue work on their bowls and I'm certain we'll have to make up some sweet dough to go along with that campfire. Again the Knapps proved that they can impart knowledge without lecturing and they do it with respect and kindness and simplicity. It was a joy to have another opportunity to spend the day with them and we look forward many more such days.

As a final reminder of all the goodness of the day, we were greeted with the stunning beauty of the woods and pond as we walked back to our cars. Winter in Maine, in the woods, with friends--what beautiful gift.


  1. Another incredible day! Really, no hot coals at public schools allowed? So funny!!! She is absolutely right, homeschooling is an amazing adventure. Also those cat tail cookies are so darn cute!

    Noah said the something simular today while we made a tin punch candle holder. He said "Is this safe? They would never allow me to do this at regular school." (He's still in de-schooling mode.) I assured him I would never let him do something too dangerous. Maybe tomorrow I should give him a hot coal to play with ;) We get to spend some time in the woods next week, nothing this fun though!

  2. Wow - lots of lovely photos. I love being in the woods in the winter. Looks like you haven't had much snow yet -- our world is covered in white. :)

  3. what a fantastic experience! your photos are wonderful.



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