White-tailed Wonder of the Woods: A Deer’s Adventures

This will be my fifth winter walking in these woods and following the many deer tracks in the snow. It is such a joyful and P.L.A.Y.-ful activity to do on a cold winter’s day and it helps me to add variety to my daily walks by simply stepping alongside the hoofprints and seeing wherever the trail may take me.

On some outings I even discover coyote and turkey tracks right beside the deer tracks and I wonder at how this encounter looked or who came through first or last or if someone was being followed.

I’ve only actually seen the deer a few times up close as I approach the babbling brook and my sounds are muffled. More often I see them at a distance in the corn fields as I drive along the roadway out of town. Either way I am always thankful for knowing they are there in our fields and forest and also call this place home.



To give gratitude for the many years of awe and wonder this P.L.A.Y.-ful practice of tracking the white-tailed deer has provided I have created a new story series based on Thornton Burgess’ 1921 book The Adventures of Lightfoot the Deer.

Time to get curious and introduce your family to another four-legged friend found in the fields and forests near your home.

Look for new story chapters from

The Adventures of Lightfoot the Deer

to appear every

Tuesday + Thursday

for the remainder of 2020.

Time to P.L.A.Y.!!!

Enjoy!!!

Goat Duty Days – No Social Distance Required!

Little Bear and Rowan peeking out to say “Good Goatie Good Morning!”

These two fine fellows have been greeting me each morning with a quizzical look as I care for my fellow community member’s six goats this week. For although I was given a fine tour and took plenty of notes on how to care for them before their owners left I am sure they are fully aware that I am simply the “temporary help”, doing my best, with each placement of the hay, water, minerals, and attempt to mimic their daily routines.

At times I have helped with some of this routine goat care for my daughter’s four goats as well over the years and so it is all familiar to some extent.

However what has just occurred to me, in just a few days time of doing double duty, is that our animals continue to provide that opportunity for close contact and connection while our human connections feel the strain of “social distancing/physical distancing” as the pandemic continues in 2020.

Caring for the goats requires no mask and they love to get up close in your face, nose-to-nose, to check out your minty fresh breath (or breakfast breath!). They keep their ears perked and really listen in on your morning chatter, singing or whistling too, as you go about your chores. They are also always up for plenty of scritchy-scratches on their chin, back, and pretty much most any place on their body and can get a very relaxed Zen look in their eyes if you brush their backs long enough.

Starlight gathers the latest from this group of ducks that patrol these parts of our community meadow.

And if you are lucky, as we are in our community, there are other animals that come to pay a call routinely visiting the goats and chattering amongst themselves about the latest news in the animal world. And they are probably talking about those silly “new beaks” on the humans too. What happened to their faces? What is this thing called a mask?! Why do they stand so far apart vs. getting together like they use to circled up like a gaggle of geese?

Oh what a world!

Truly, although there is a time and energy commitment beyond house pets like a cat or dog, goats are fine companions for times like these and very appreciative of human attention.

This “granny goat” is giving gratitude for the opportunity to connect to these sweet creatures, thankful my fellow community member and daughter have taken on these responsibilities all these years, and I am so happy to be a part of their larger herd!

Time to go P.L.A.Y. with the “(grown)kids”!

Sending hugs & smiles to help light the way,

Karen ;0) ❤

Stretching Shadow – A Simple Gift

The shadows grow long as the sun sets ever earlier and we near the end of November allowing for P.L.A.Y.-full moments like this one here in my neck-of-the-woods.

And even though I’ve passed through this patch of the forest a thousand times this moment was like catching an unexpected glimpse of myself in the mirror as I caught sight of my extended shadow.

My how tall I’ve grown I thought. I look a bit long in the legs with four of them no less! I could be called “stretch”! What if a critter walked up behind me, how tall would they be? What if it was the black bear I saw a few weeks ago only this time it was walking on two legs? Oh my – what silly fun!

This whimsical moment reminded me yet again of how everything changes, always. Mother Nature has made sure that no matter what there will always be change even if we do not readily see it.

That is how this year has been too. There are so many obvious changes that have taken place in 2020 and yet there are so many subtle ones as well.

This holiday week may be a bit quieter for many of us as we stay home in our own pods and save visiting family and friends for another year when it is safer to do so.

And perhaps this provides an unexpected opportunity for all of us to reflect on the more subtle changes, perhaps even unexpected delights, that have unfolded while our attention was elsewhere this year.

What little things have you overlooked that could only have taken place due to the larger changes throughout 2020?

Someday when masks, and pods, and the pandemic are over what little things will you miss that could only have taken place this year and will eventually disappear?

Once you’ve sat with these thoughts awhile I hope you and your cozy pod are able to take the time to delight in the simple and subtle changes outdoors this week and in the months to come.

Whether it is catching a glimpse of your own shadows in the setting sunlight, collecting cool crystals on a winter’s day, or creating your own spontaneous P.L.A.Y. projects may you all discover simple pleasures in your own neck-of-the-woods.

Truly nature is there for you, ready to P.L.A.Y., always.

Be well, be safe, and simply bee!

From me and my shadow,

Karen ;0) ❤

Thank You!

A Community of Curious Capkins ready to P.L.A.Y.!

Hello P.L.A.Y. Community!

Just taking a moment to send out a big THANK YOU! to all for continuing on this journey of Passionate Learning All Year and having the courage to make connecting to nature with your family a priority even when the going gets tough.

The year 2020 will be written into the archives as a challenging time for most everyone for so many reasons.

And what I also know to be true is that the folks that were able to set an intention to connect to nature routinely discovered a sense of momentary calm, moving from their “head space” into their “heart space”, even in the midst of what felt like a succession of storms.

I found this to be true too. Taking a moment to look at the clouds passing by, gathering a “stripey” stone down by the river, tossing crisp leaves to the wind, visiting tiny tadpoles to talk to them daily and see how they’ve grown, countless curious Capkin snapshots in every season, and simply being present in the great outdoors daily has made all the difference in how I’ve experienced 2020. It has been a very important part of my resilience in such challenging times.

And as we head into the winter months, with a new year right around the corner and a pandemic still looming large, please know that by taking the time to connect to nature you and your family are making great contributions to your well being and that of this planet.

Every moment that we can stand in wonder of the nature spaces we visit provides the opportunity for calm, connection, and a great sense of P.L.A.Y. if we are truly present for this simple gift. Our children, already by their very nature, know how to do this thing called P.L.A.Y. and here’s hoping you will continue to join them on this journey. This is a gift that truly benefits us one and all.

Be well, be safe, and simply BEE (and please be in touch HERE)!

Sending hugs and a smile to help light the way,

Karen ;0)

Simply Bee!

Visit P.L.A.Y. on PINTEREST!

 

Join the P.L.A.Y. community on PINTEREST!


You will find nature videos, story read-alouds, seasonal snapshots, and oodles of  inspirational P.L.A.Y. pins for you and your family.


Try these P.L.A.Y. boards -Pass it on!


 P.L.A.Y. + Pass it on!

Forest Bathing with the Family – A Daily Simple Gift!

Have you ever stood amongst the trees in mid-autumn in awe of the wonderful canvas of color before you and wondered how the leaves change color or know when to fall?

Have you ever been in a pine forest with fog rolling in and felt the stillness of hushed sounds all around and only an echo of a bird calling in the distance?

Have you ever walked about after a winter ice storm to see the sparkling sun shine through the coated branches?

Have you ever stood under the canopy of a maple tree during a light spring rain shower and watched the water droplets roll off the tips of the leaves?

Then perhaps forest bathing may be something you’ve been doing for awhile now and the phrase is simply new to you. Or perhaps you’ve been spending a great deal of time indoors and the thought of time spent amongst the trees brings you back to childhood or a more peaceful time in your life.

Either way, now is a great time to reconnect to the idea of spending time in nature and to learn more about the benefits of soaking up your natural surroundings for a few moments each day, or as often as you can, for your health and well being and that of your family.

The bonus is you’ve come to the right place as P.L.A.Y. is very much here to help you connect and engage with this concept of forest bathing. The daily blog posts on P.L.A.Y.  are here to encourage the whole family to find the nearest nature path or patch, be present and allow for your sense of curiosity and wonder to kick in, and make the essence of P.L.A.Y.  a routine practice.


Forest Bathing For Families



Forest Bathing: How Trees Can Help You Find Health and Happiness

by Dr. Qing Li


Dr. Qing Li, a scientist in Japan, explains in his book Forest Bathing: How Trees Can Help You Find Health and Happiness and how the term shinrin-yoku (or forest bathing) came about in the 1980’s. He also shares the many ways spending time in the forest or in a nature setting can make a world of difference in your health and well being. As a scientist he has gathered the data over time to show skeptics why spending frequent time in the forest is beneficial for improved sleep, reducing stress and anxiety, increased energy boost, a natural way to connect with loved ones, and so much more. And as a human he has experienced these benefits first hand.

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I too have discovered, through simple curiosity and P.L.A.Y. , that heading outdoors daily in all seasons has had a beneficial impact on how I see and feel and experience this world. Being outdoors routinely has increased my creativity, provided a sense of calm even during challenging times, and given me the opportunity to learn so much more about my natural surroundings here in New England.

Forest bathing and nature walking have been so beneficial to my well being and that of my family that I just had to share these experiences and encourage others to join the journey. This has been the catalyst for creating P.L.A.Y. – Passionate Learning All Year and keeps me consistently returning to my neck-of-the-woods to see what new wonders have appeared right outside my door and eagerly passing forward these gifts through this blog to you and your family.


Hannah Fries, author of Forest Bathing Retreat: Find Wholeness in the Company of Trees, has also created a wonderful guide that is a great companion to Dr. Qing Li’s book and is just the right size for the whole family to engage with and be inspired by both the photos and prompts. An example of a prompt found mid-way through the book is “As you watch a tree sway in the wind, let your knees and shoulders relax. Sway a little on your own stem.” Or another example is ” Find harmony as you look closely at the natural world, you may begin to see patterns amid what seems like chaos -unexpected connections thrumming everywhere around us.” Hannah’s book is a balm in these times as we all need to find peace-filled spaces and moments to simply be present and in awe of nature which can help us feel grounded and safe on Mother Earth even in the midst of uncertainty.

Note: The foreword to Hannah’s book is written by Robin Wall Kimmerer the author of the well known and also much recommended Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants.


🙂

Time to gather up your gaggle of giggling gifts, aka kiddos + family all – Fido too, and announce you’re going for a bath in the forest – together!

It’s P.L.A.Y. Time!

Please pass forward this Simple Gift to inspire and encourage loved ones, both near and far, on their

naturally curious and creative P.L.A.Y. journey. 🙂


BOOK LOOK – Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul by Stuart Brown MD

BOOK LOOK

PLAY: How It Shapes the Brain,

Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul

by Stuart Brown

REVIEW

Dr. Stuart Brown’s book Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul backs up with data and research everything I’ve come to know and have experienced in my 50+ years of being an elementary educator, homeschooling mom, and all around joyfully playful creative human being at every age and stage of my life.

Play is . . .

  • Play is required, on par with eating + sleeping + breathing, for the health and well being of our families, communities, and the world at large.
  • Play is the gateway for all of us to access our creativity and provides the catalyst for gathering all that we need on our life learning journey.
  • Play is where innovation comes from and has been the platform from which so many unique and very much needed ideas are launched into the world. (example: see story of Velcro)
  • Play is always an opportunity to express your most authentic self whether playing alone or together with other folks.
  • Play is engaging with books, movies, the arts, sports, games, hobbies, work you love or getting a job done more joyfully, day-dreaming, music, etc. What would your life look like without these? Yikes!
  • Play is like oxygen. So be sure to <Breathe in> and <Breathe out> mindfully and regularly!
  • P.L.A.Y. + Pass it on!!!

In our Western culture where play is often written off as extra or frivolous it is helpful to be reminded of just how necessary it is for our human survival and thriving. If you’d like to see more of the data to support these ideas please take a moment to read Dr. Brown’s book. It is a game changer!

REFLECTIONS

Play and Learning Go Hand-in-Hand at ALL Ages + Stages

A truer statement could not be spoken. This is at the heart of it ALL.

This is also the very premise on which  P.L.A.Y. Passionate Learning All Year is based.

As the adult you are now, or even better when you were a child,  can you think of any situation in which there isn’t an opportunity for growth and learning? Not a chance.

Every day we have the opportunity to learn and expand what we know, how we know it, getting it into our bones, digging deeper, and playing with ideas to fully engage with the human experience.

Laura Grace Weldon says on page 1 in Chapter 1 of her excellent resource guide titled Free Range Learning: How Homeschooling Changes Everything

“And, of course, children play. Play is generative, transforming the ordinary into something unique. It also imparts advanced social skills and a creative approach to life.”

And if you combine that with the work of Dr. Stuart Brown you will realize that kiddos AND adults have been playing, learning, and working side-by-side with each other in their families and communities since the beginning of time. Folks of all ages engaging together, indoors and out, naturally modeling for each other the skills they need to survive and thrive.

Work and play go hand-in-hand, at every age and stage of our lives, and now more than ever with the mindful and beneficial use of technology we can create lives that match our natural rhythms and earn a livelihood that allows us to be inspired and engaged daily. We can pursue our passions, play along the way, and share our hard work with the world naturally learning throughout the journey.

In other words, for kiddos and adults, both Stuart Brown’s and Laura Weldon’s books give you permission to embrace your authentic selves, play daily which gives you the space and grace to let your natural talents shine through, and bring these gifts forward to be of service throughout your lifetime.

AND if you can weave connecting to and engaging with nature into all of this work and play it will benefit you, your loved ones, and the planet ten fold.  Your authentic Work + P.L.A.Y. + Nature is a recipe for a full-filling life sharing your true gifts.

Sounds like pure genius right? That is what Laura call’s using one’s gifts – true genius.

So, what are you waiting for?

Time to experience P.L.A.Y. in action by picking up your copy of Stuart Brown’s PLAY: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul and putting it into practice today.

And while you are at it take a peek at Free Range Learning by Laura Grace Weldon (spoiler alert – it isn’t just for homeschoolers – all Life Learners are welcome!).

You and your family will be ever so glad you did.

Sending Smiles ~ Karen 🙂

Recommended Books for P.L.A.Y. in Nature

Now FREE Online all in one P.L.A.Y. place!

Fall #84 – Nature Alliteration Adventure

A P.L.A.Y. September treasure quest for you and your curious Capkin

is to search in nature for

“Lightly Lumbering through the Leaf Litter”

Bonus Color Challenge – orange

❤ ❤ ❤

My curious Capkin and I found this treasure to match the description.

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What other natural treasures did you find in your P.L.A.Y. today? 🙂


Draw, write, color, and creatively capture your discoveries

on the pages of your Nature Adventure book!

Purchase HERE P.L.A.Y. Nature Alliteration Adventure Guide Books

Fall #69 – Nature Alliteration Adventure

A September treasure quest for you and your curious Capkin

is to search in nature for

“Subtle Striped Shaded Stone”

BonusSweet Hues of Yellows & Slate Blues

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My curious Capkin and I found this treasure to match the description.

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What other natural treasures did you find in your P.L.A.Y. today? 🙂


Draw, write, color, and creatively capture your discoveries

on the pages of your Nature Adventure book!

Purchase HERE P.L.A.Y. Nature Alliteration Adventure Guide Books

Family Gardening #14: Summing it All Up!


P.L.A.Y. in Place Projects


Hoping you and your gardens thrived this year – weeds, bees, and all the oh my goodness that “grows” with it!

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On this last day of summer let’s wind down this series with a few more sunny snapshots.

Strawberries foraged in the meadows under the warm summer sun. Quality over quantity to tingle your tastebuds!

 

Apples in our old orchard with some for taking a bite and some just right for cider making.

Awesome cabbages grown to make homemade sauerkraut in a crock!


Yay for green thumbs!


Butterfly garden flowers that have been given as bouquets and to dress up our table. Beautiful – like bringing sunshine indoors!


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Time to put the gardens to bed and this series too. 🙂

Tidy up the plants and regain the overgrown walking paths while filling up the compost bin with all that great vegetation.

Time to enjoy the harvest and give your green thumb a well deserved rest.

See you back here in this family gardening thread when the seed catalogs start rolling in!

Look for fresh new posts by early Spring 2021!

❤ ❤ ❤


Notes:

  • This series will continue to follow the seasons and growing patterns according to living here in a Zone 5 northern New England climate and you’ll need to adjust accordingly.
  • The specific gardening needs you have can simply be answered using your favorite search engine online seeking DIY instructions as well as library eBooks and audiobooks (especially as we are all asked to continue to P.L.A.Y. in Place at the time of this posting).
  • P.L.A.Y. is here to encourage you and your family on your gardening journey simply by posting some of our experiences as inspiration and basic prompts to growing food and flowers.

More P.L.A.Y. in Place with a Plan Family Gardening HERE


This P.L.A.Y. series is for everyone! Pass it on!

  • If you are new to gardening this series is designed to encourage you and your family to take small steps towards growing foods and flowers of any kind and any amount.
  • If you’ve tinkered with gardening in the past and things didn’t always work out this series is here to encourage you to try again AND do it as a family focusing on each individuals strengths to help it all come together.
  • This series will offer up suggestions for basic leaping off points where you and your family can begin and choose to deep dive or keep it simple in the world of gardening.
  • Most of all this series will be a source of encouragement and hopefully an inspiration to simply get in the dirt (aka garden) and P.L.A.Y. and the rest will “bee what it will bee”.

Simply BEE!