Lanie and Ken's house in a typical Sandpoint winter

 

        HOW TO GO FOR A WALK IN THE WOODS  WITH YOUR GRANDCHILD

by Lanie johnson, M.A. and Ken Fischman, Ph.D>

 

            Discover how we as elders can teach our grandchildren to live in harmony with nature

 

1.  Gather together with brief self-intros.

2.  State Purpose.

3.  Warm-ups

4.  Awareness Walk

            A.  Superhearing

            B.  Expanded Vision

            C.  Meditation/inner stillness – wildlife observation

            D.  Foxwalk – respect the Earth

            E.   Blindfold walk

            F.  Stalking game – how close can you get to the deer?

5.  Just walk and enjoy – K and L point out natural things according

            present environment.

6.  Safety guidelines (*Tell someone where going *Lost-proofing*

            Weather-proofing*Poisonous plants)

7.  Elements of survival/demo

8.  Role of Elder (Ken's sheet)

            Story teller – story

9.  Plight of children + what we can do

            Book list

10. Return trip + Garbage bags

 

1.  Introductions:

            We are happy to see you here today! [Did anyone have trouble finding this location? – feedback will help us give better directions] Before we start out on our walk, we would like for all of us to know a little about each other, so lets form a circle, go around, and have everyone do a brief introduction – just your name, where your from, and if you have [children or] grandchildren, how many [,and their names].  I'll start …

            I'm Lanie, originally from Princeton, N.J.  I spent most of my adult life in NYC, but now live partly on Donnelly, ID and partly in our solar-powered truck camper.  I have one great-niece but no grandchildren, but I have done a lot of work with families and children so I feel as if I have quite a large number of grandchildren.

 

2.  Purpose

            To inspire people [seniors] to [take their rightful place in]save [saving]the Earth and their Grandchildren     

You say you can't walk very fast?  there's an advantage to that: if you walk more slowly, you'll see more and miss less. Younger people are always in a hurry to get from A to Z –  in so doing, they miss the alphabet in between.  One of the most important things you need to do in Nature, is to slow down. 

You say that you can't see as well as you used to?  You can actually use that to your advantage also, in heightening your other senses.  Ever close your eyes in order to hear better or feel something by touch?  And besides, we are going to show you a different kind of vision that's more appropriate to use in Nature, and you may be as good or better at it than a kid. etc.

          In The Woods  K.  "We are here today to give you some hints on how you can enjoy walking in the woods with your young grandchildren.  By the way, did you know that in traditional societies, it was the grandparents who brought up the children because their parents were busy hunting and gathering?  And. guess what?  The parents in our post-industrial society are again too busy to take care of their children – and may be that's part of the problem …"

4.  Awareness Walk

            In our society, we do everything high tech and sequential.  In the outdoors, we hike with clodhopper boots, carry our houses on our backs, and restrict ourselves to walking on trails.  We use pricy, space-age materials and technological gimmicks, and put synthetic chemicals on and into our bodies.  We focus straight ahead, with our goal being to get from place A to place Z as fast as possible.  The irony is that in doing so, we place a wall between ourselves and Nature, screening out the very things we came to appreciate and enjoy.  We are almost like the proverbial monkeys.  We see nothing, hear nothing, but boy do we chatter a lot! 

            Lanie and I have stood less than 50 feet off a trail many times, and watched hikers pass by entirely unaware of our presence.  In the first survival course we took, 50 presumably aware people walked down a trail entirely unaware that they had passed under one of our instructors perched on a tree limb 3 feet over their heads.  They had never looked up!

            Traditional people were silent, glided through the landscape, and were totally aware of everything around them.  Their next meal, and perhaps their very lives depended on it.  Today we will introduce you to some of these traditional skills and ways of being in Nature.  We cannot give you a thorough course in such a short time, but we hope to give you some experience of that wonderful way and to whet your appetite for more.  At the end of our walk, we will tell you of courses and books that can help you expand this experience.

            [One last thing before we begin.  It would be disingenuous not to tell you that we have some ulterior motives.  We are hoping that what you experience today will deepen your appreciation of the natural world and make you aware of the role you can play as the mature, wise guides of our society, and especially our children now desperately need.  Our society has wandered off the path of being in harmony with nature and our grandchildren will have to pay the price unless people like you can help them find their way back.]

            A.  Superhearing          

                        Summary

                                    – Have group stop, be silent, and listen for a

                                                moment

                                    – What do you hear? Anything that you did

                                                not hear previously?

                                    – Show SH tech.(turn into a deer, etc.) Try to

                                                hear again. what is the difference in

                                                louses, direction, etc.

                                    – Discuss uses

 

            Ask the group what and how they heard. (short discussion)  We will teach you a new, but ancient technique in which you turn yourself into a wild animal like a deer.  (Demo by cupped hands behind ears and turning torso from side to side to enhance loudness and determine direction of sound)  Ask Q's What do you hear now? How is it different?  (louder, sounds not previously heard, direction,  etc.)

   you can use SH to find your way out of the woods also.  You might be able to hear and locate the sounds of rivers or traffic, and head in that direction.  By the way, did you know that there is no place in this country that you can walk in a straight line for more than 75 miles without hitting a paved road?  Did you know that our National Forests are cris-crossed by thousands of miles of lumber roads?

            (Short discussion of Concentric Circles) You have created a disturbance among the nearer animals that spreads like the concentric circles a pebble dropped in a pond make. The animals near you make warning cries (or stop making sounds), and this change spreads to others farther away.  Your presence has now been detected far from you, and that is why although there is wildlife all around, you see so little of it.

            we will show you how to move silently in order to overcome the concentric circle problem

            B.  Expanded Vision

                        Summary

                                    –  Stop group again

                                    –  Lets try an Expt. with vision.  Explain purpose

                                    –  Describe method, e.g. arms extended, etc.

                                    –  Questions – How great an angle can you see at? 

                                                What are the differences from focused

                                                vision?

                                    – Purpose:  e.g. Wild animals see this way. 

                                                Movement more important in woods

                                                than detail.

                                    – Try walking this way for a few minutes. Anecdote-

                                                walking w. a w.o. flashlight

 

            Lets stop for a moment.  I want to show you something about vision.  Spread out in a line, about 2 arm-lengths apart.  In our society we learn early to stay focused, both physically and metaphorically.  we use this type of vision for reading, close work, and nowadays for watching TV  and computer screens.  This Tunnel vision.  We never learn that there is another way of seeing – Wide-Angle or Expanded Vision. 

            Look straight ahead at some object.  Extend your arms sideways.  Now start wiggling your fingers while slowly bringing your arms forward until you become aware of your fingers.  Notice how wide your angle of vision has become.  You can see a lot more now.  In this mode, you become more aware of movement than detail.  This is how wild animals and those traditional people who hunt them see.  This why if you stand stock still and an animal like a deer or rabbit appears to look right at you, they usually do not spook.  They see vague forms, and you may look like a tree trunk to them.  But if you raise an arm, they are gone like a flash.  Just then you reminded them of a hunter with a rifle.  Who says animals can't think and learn?  Why do the deer go to the tops of the mountains during hunting season while lazy hunters look for them in the valleys?  I have seen the reverse – Elk hunters on their horses on top of the mountains, and when I drove down into the valley, there were the Elk, grazing peacefully right by the road!

            Try this.  Look at the landscape like a painting, and while walking through it, enlarge your field of vision to take in as much as possible.  You will become aware of movement, like animals do and have a fighting chance of seeing them before they see you.  [Lanie and I once tried expanded vision while canoeing down a eastern rive at the height of Autumn color.  It was relaxing, like a form of meditation.  This is how Monet must have seen!]  We will ask you later what your experience was.  Don't worry about stumbling. You will be surprised at how well you can feel the ground with your feet.

            Discussion of EV experience).  A word about vision at night.  Most people use flashlights at night, but they therefore see only what is in the flashlight beam and their vision never accommodates to the dark.  Try this.  Stand in the dark for 3-5 minutes needed to accommodate and you will be amazed at how much you can see.  Also, try looking at things out of the corner of you eye.  You see better that way at night because you have more rods than cones there, and they are more sensitive to dim light.

 

flashlight beam = good metaphor for tunnel vision!             

            E.  Blindfold Walk – To experience the landscape through senses other than vision.

            Components:

                        – Set up prior to walk (previous day?) Need varied landscape, e.g. sun/shade, rough/smooth bark, damp/dry soil, vary height of rope, crawl/climb, hear dry leaves, wind, etc. (string leading away from main string to e.g. hole in tree) Knots in rope can alert class to important places.

                        –  Explain purpose of exercise, and how to proceed through course (e.g. stay on same side of rope. Do not run through course, etc.)

                        –  Blindfold each person, and L&K will alternately lead people through, one at a time, with sufficient distance between them.

                        –  Let them examine the course afterward in order to see what they experienced.

                        –  Discuss why experience was different w.o. vision.

            Someone once said that "vision leads the other senses".  We have become 80-90% visual beings, mainly because we neglect our other senses, like touch, smell, hearing.  They are still there for the most part, lying dormant like a sleeping animal, and all we need to do is to awaken and retrain them, like an athlete trains her muscles.  Children enjoy blindfold games immensely, and there are many blindfold games you can play with them.  One of our favorites is the Blindfold Drum game.  The children try to find their way through a woods to the drummer.  A variant is to have other blindfolded children around the drummer, who listen for and try to point out the children advancing on the drummer.  By the way, adults like these games too!