As I walked out of my house Sunday morning, I breathed in the fresh air and sighed contentment. Bird song surrounded me as I walked along our quiet road. It was only 6 a.m. and the baby had woken me at 4:45 this morning. Lately, the early morning light has roused her and then me, too. So as I soaked up the early summer morning I began to reflect on our week together at home. It had been busy; strawberry picking, music lessons, time with friends, household tasks, and learning all the time. Our reading choices this week have been about edible and medicinal plants and botany in general. The seed for this learning was planted early in the spring when we went for a walk with a good friend and she pointed out ramps (wild leeks) to us. This one experience led us to learn about how to harvest ramps in a ecologically responsible way, but most of all, it intrigued my children that we could go out into the woods and find food to eat.
About the same time as our discovery of the ramps, symptoms of thrush appeared in the baby. Her tongue was coated white and her bottom was spotted and red. I decided to research some herbs to help her. I made an herbal salve that began healing her bottom at once. I had long stored bags of herbs in our pantry for tea but all of a sudden, the herbs were more interesting to the children. They had watched as I added herbs, oil, and beeswax to our little crockpot and they had seen how quickly the baby's rash had disappeared. So they began asking questions, wanting to know about different plants and herbs. Since my knowledge in this area is pretty limited, I began to search out some resources. (I’ll list them below.)
I came across the cooperative board game Wildcraft, which teaches about a variety of herbs and their uses. That game alone sparked the kids’ curiosity. Suddenly, they were looking for the wild plants on our walks and in our backyard. We began reading a beginner’s guide to edible and medicinal plants, as well as a few botany books. The oldest 2 children decided to make their own wild plant scrapbooks. They have begun gathering plants, identifying them with field guides, and photographing and pressing them in order to put them into a book of their own creation.
It has been pretty incredible to watch this all unfold. From it I have learned so much! I have been reminded that we learn all the time, and that spontaneously following our interests feels so good! I have also been reminded that every spring we feel the need to put aside our hours curled on the couch to spend hours outdoors. We still read together but not as much. Our learning looks different throughout the year, and allowing it to flow like the graceful dance of the seasons, frees us to honor our passions and acknowledge them as authentic learning.
Wildcraft: An Herbal Adventure Game, LearningHerbs.com