"I can track deer and turkey and horses," my sister reports that Andrew told her. "Do you know how to do it? You look for foot prints and poop. Poop is what they ate a while back"
You know, he's exactly right. Andrew is my sister's grandson, and my great nephew. He turned 5 on the 5th of January. I think he has a great future as a tracker.
In the Residential program we would spend hours looking at tracks. No pile of poop went un-analyzed. We measured, sketched, and wrote in our journals. I think it's kind of funny that Andrew knows instinctively what we spent most of a year studying.
I'm glad that he has the opportunity to play in the woods, and to study in his 5-year old way things like tracking deer and turkey and horses. He's one of the luck kids who gets to follow his passions...I have dim memories of sitting by a Groundhog (Marmota monax) den in the field by our house when I was about Andrew's age. It was near the fence that separated our farm from the neighbors peanut field.
My brother Jim and I would spend hours waiting for that Groundhog, or Woodchuck to come out. It never did...I imagine that our shadows fell over the entrance as we sat much too close.
Mom would pack a lunch for us and send us off the quarter-mile or so through the field to sit where, I realize now, she and the neighbors could both keep an eye on us. It kept us out of her way, and out of trouble. For me, it was the place I started to learn the skills of a naturalist. My brother? He's a biker dude and machinist in Oklahoma City. He lost his enthusiasm for watching large rodents as soon as he discovered wheels.
For Andrew, I pray that he always has tracks to follow, and never looses his interest in - well, poop. I'm doing my best to be a good long-distance mentor to him. I think it's time to get him started on "Kamana for Kids". He's starting school soon, and I worry that he will lose interest in outdoor things when he's surrounded by kids who wouldn't know a deer from a turkey from a horse.
It's a big responsibility, passing on the stuff I've learned at WAS. And it's exciting to think that at least one little kid can talk to me any time about tracks, and poop, and the wonder of the natural world.
Links to Cool Sites:
My Favorite Fiction Authors and Books
- Suzanne Arruda- the Jade del Cameron mysteries: "The Mark of the Lion" "Stalking Ivory", "The Serpent's Daughter", "The Leopard's Prey" and "The Golden Cheetah"
- Ken Goddard - "Balefire" and others
- Stephen White - the Dr. Alan Gregory books are all great. "Kill Me" is my favorite.
- Harlan Coben - anything he writes is great
- Elizabeth Peters - Amelia Peabody mysteries
My Favorite Nonfiction Authors and Books
- "Coyote's Guide to Connecting With Nature" by Jon Young, Ellen Haas and Evan McGown- 2nd edition coming soon!
- Gavin De Becker - "The Gift of Fear"
- "Deep Survival" by Laurence Gonzales- the best survival book I've ever read! Not a how-to, its more of a who does,and why.
- Candice Millard - "The River of Doubt -Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey"
- Anything that starts with "Peterson's Field Guide To..."
- Tom Brown, Jr. - "The Tracker" and others
- Mark Elbroch - "Mammal Tracks and Sign" and "Animal Skulls"