If You Take Something From The Land

If You Take Something From The Land

There it was again, that distinct and familiar sound.

“Ow-oooooooooooooooo, ow, ow, ow-oooooooooooo”

Some kids from the Porcupines immediately began moving towards the source of the howl, eyes and ears trained on their friends- eager to hear the latest news.

Other porcupines, immersed in their play, responded more gradually. One added a few final pine cones scales to her sand mermaid tail before joining in. Those that had been climbing trees, slowly navigated the ladder-like branches down to join the group. Others took a break from heatedly discussing a mushroom to join their prickle (we had learned earlier that afternoon that a congregation of porcupines was called a prickle; a perfect descriptor for this group of creative and curious learners). Eventually, everyone was assembled and ready to listen.

“Thank you friends for gathering” and with that, Virginia turned to a fellow porcupine who was perched on the edge of the sandbox. Nine pairs of eyes shifted towards their friend- it was always exciting to learn from one another, and in Forest School, we are all teachers.

In a soft, confident and respectful voice, the porcupine shared some very important words.

“If you take something, it’s not good for the land.” He then went on to share the importance of offering back to Mother Earth. The prickle listened attentively as he showed them the tobacco he had with him that day and shared the importance of this offering to show respect for the land.

“Treat the Earth like you want to be treated”.

This was a very important teaching for all of us. Our time together in Forest School is full of discovery and often, we want to keep found treasures as a way to remember, share and celebrate our time together. We are learning from each other about ways that we can do this respectfully. That day, after hearing from their friend, some porcupines decided to leave their discoveries in the forest, some agreed that they would only borrow them for a short time and others offered something back to the land as a way of thanks.

In forest school we are always learning and growing as caretakers: caring for each other, for ourselves and for the land.

Written by educator Tara Beck