Nature Connection through “Story of the Day”

This week I missed nature group; I hurt my back and didn’t get out of bed for three days. On Monday, I sadly watched the kids walk out of my room with Trevor in the morning.

Nature group is the only thing our family doesn’t skip – ever – unless we are very sick. And, honestly, I was bit jealous the kids were going with another mom to spend the morning at the beach with Tod. I was also jealous of their ability to sit, stand and walk…clearly, I needed to stay home!

The pleasure of my day (and the end of my moping) came when they returned and rushed into my room. Cambria sat down and immediately launched into the story of their morning, with Elijah adding in extra details. The excitement in their voices was infectious —they had tracked a bobcat ALL morning. Over two hours and one mile down the beach.

Their details and highlights poured out: the bobcat walked across the creek; it walked along the edge of the dunes; it walked through the dunes; they lost the tracks three or four times; Cambria re-found them; Elijah and a friend re-found them; Tod re-found them…perhaps it was more than one bobcat…it jumped down a small cliff (which was pretty high!); it walked over rocks and then we found the tracks in a small sandy area; it walked by a bunch of jellyfish; we tracked it for a MILE in sand!

All of this came gushing out with more details, interruptions and such pride at the extended tracking, that I couldn’t help getting excited. What a wonderful day at the beach! What a thrilling story! They were so passionate about this absentee bobcat, which had led them on a tracking journey. It was like they could see the actions of the bobcat, as it went about its business on the beach.

Without realizing it, they had told me the “Story of the Day”, which is part of nature connection and a Core Routine according to Jon Young in his book Coyote’s Guide to Connecting with Nature. For millennia, story telling was the main way of communicating between groups of ancient people. We do this all the time, around the kitchen table or on the phone with a distant friend, about our day-to-day lives. However, in the “Story of the Day” a nature experience is the focus of the story. Our nature stories don’t tell us where to find our next meal to survive, but they do share an experience full of discoveries and builds our knowledge of an area.

Tod uses “Story of the Day” at the end of each group meeting. He asks us to tell about our favorite thing. It’s an enlightening experience to hear what each adult and child found important during circle time. We are reminded of parts of our journey that were exciting, but forgotten in our personal moment of telling. Cambria and Elijah did this together, building the story of their “Bobcat Tracking Expedition”.

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