Wednesday, 9 May 2012

The Tour - Day 3

On our way to Toronto Evergreen Brickworks. I had never been there but had heard a lot about it. It was a busy place with the farmer market going, kids programs and the works. This was our first workshop offered through the tour. The workshop talked about the rites of passage. About offering our younger generation a ceremony that takes them from childhood to adulthood. We see this in ancient cultures and in the aboriginal cultures where the men would go off into the woods to do a spiritual walk or the sweat lodge. Through these rites of passage we start regenerating our culture.

As I was sitting there, listening to Mark speak, an idea came to me. In my experience with my own daughter, I notice that our culture, even though we have come a long way, still has certain expectations on genders. That girls are frilly and play with dolls, learn how to put on make up, cook and look after people, and the boys are macho, bread winners, who provide for their families, do the heavy work and such. I do have to say, even when I was a child those same gender expectations were imposed on me... I am just one to not listen to any of that and do what I felt was true to me. Even if you said I couldn't do it because I was a girl, I sought out a way to prove you wrong. You can say I am still like that. The song that comes to mind is "Anything you can do I can do better" ha ha.

Anyway, got off topic there.

The Rite of Passage workshop got me thinking about the so called camping trip my daughter was suppose to go on with her un-named group. I won't name it here in public. But I was disappointed when I learned that the message being sent to these young girls about the camp trip was "you are too little and wouldn't be able to do "real" camping'. These girls are 8 and 9, fully capable of camping. The biggest comment was that they were not to use a backpack because they wouldn't be able to carry it and it would take to long to pack it up. Um... and your point being? Are they not suppose to learn how to pack a backpack and carry it? That was just the start of it. I could go onto a big rant, but I promise I won't. Let's just say, my daughter is not going to be part of this group anymore. I want an empowering experience for my daughter, not an enabling one. She gets enough of that in media, songs and magazines.

So what was Mark talking about? He was telling us stories of his program he offers pre-teens that  teaches them survival skills and primitive skills. Skills that teach problem solving, tenacity, to keep trying even if you are tired and wet and don't want to... because your own survival depends on it. And then when you learn all those skills, you do a solo over night, a night of self sufficiency and survival of your own power. A night where you are on your own to fetch water, food and shelter and build your own fire. Think of all the lessons learned in that! Just think about it! How amazing would your child feel when they come back after making a water bottle out of birch bark and pitch, found a source, built a fire they lit by bowdrill and made shelter for the night and SURVIVED!!! ON THEIR OWN! How powerful!

THAT is what I want to provide for my daughter and to other young women out there. An opportunity to be resilient, problem solver, self sufficient and can handle situations no matter how scarey they are. A life lesson that can be applied to anything in your life. Heck, adults need this rite of passage too! It is in the works... watch for it.

You may be interested in these links
5 Day Tour - Day 1
5 Day Tour - Day 2

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Alarm Call of the Red-Winged Blackbird

This morning I woke up excited to join thousands of people around the world who are participating in the 3rd annual Sit Spot Challenge. It has been raining here and the farm fields have been freshly plowed so I had to take care on how I walked along the fields. It was muddy and I loved it.

This morning I felt the need to be out in nature. A need to get grounded and reflect on things that have been going on in my life, where I am going and such. I was also thinking of my friends Kyle and Kevin as they made their way to Maine to join White Pines in the Bird Language Course. And I was wishing I could be with them.

As I entered into my secret sit spot, I went with my intuition and decided to sit close to the small pond. I was drawn to sit under a big walnut tree with squirrel signs. The pond was swollen with water from the recent rains and the red winged blackbirds were busy chasing each other and calling their territorial calls.

As I sat there listening, I closed my eyes and listen to all the interesting calls the red winged blackbirds were making, with the killdeer calling "kill-deer" in the background and the two robins to the NW of me. There was a lot of activity!

Then, it all went quiet and a different call, started first with the red winged blackbirds then the robins. It was a sound I had not heard before, like a very loud high-pitched one note whistle. I opened my eyes and noticed all the birds were still. Still calling that one note, but not flying around. I could hear a few of the birds fluttering from branch to branch above me. I remained as still as possible and used my owl eyes to scan the area.

What was going on, why is this alarm from the blackbirds going? Then I see the culprit.... a round tailed, banded tail, streaked bird about the size of a crow. It was flying in and out of the bushes where the red-winged blackbirds were. At first I wasn't sure if it was a Sharp-Shinned or a Cooper's. So I took note of distinguishing marks as fast as I could because in a few seconds it was gone.

Then the birds went back to their activity of singing and diving at each other. Even the females climbed up the old cat tails.

It was a great gift to witness, the alarm call of the red-winged Blackbird. And a great start to the challenge.

Enjoy the day!

P.S. When I got home, I looked it up... Cooper's Hawk.