Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Magic Zone

Warm wonderful Wednesday afternoon and we get to go tracking. Another boy has joined us and I am beginning the think soon I will have my own troop out here learning to read the patterns of the land. This boy is Gaylen, and he is upbeat and enthusiastic. The three of us set out down the sewer line on the west side of the property heading toward the flood plain and immediately we find piles of deer scat. I lead them in the Art of Questioning, a skill in nature awareness that gets observers thinking. So where is the next deer track? The boys look around, find the track, look up and see a deer. We all freeze and then begin a long slow stalk down the path. I explain to them when the deer browses move, and when the deer looks at you freeze. Then another deer appears and they both stare at us for a long time and the boys, frozen, begin to very quietly complain, but then when we move again, the deer are onto us and disappear into the woods. We keep walking then, but the deer have waited and leap way. Wow, the boys say, did you see that? Can we follow the deer? Sure, I say. Perfect!

As soon we enter the thicket where they disappeared, I begin to tell them about deer patterns in the forest, and deer behavior when chased, when my son takes over the storytelling. I am so pleased. He explains that deer will run away and then circle back to see what you are. We immediately find a deer shoulder bone, which Nick claims. Wow again, what treasure. The boys start claiming the next bone, all claiming they are going to find a skull. Skulls are treasures. Then I hear heavy equipment working nearby so I pull the boys out of the thicket and call Pam, Stonehaus supervisor at the site and check in with her. Just so you know, friendly reader, she is very good at her job of caretaking that site. I always check in with her, and I am sure she will find you if you decide to come on site without notifying her. Honor the Fierce Woman. Bring her gifts.

So, we keep going, down the path to the ridge and we then we descend to the flood plain, the future site of SOCA. The path is steep and the boys have made up incredible imaginary games. My son says he has the power to mend the earth since his powers are connected to nature, and he begins elaborate gestures over a large rut. Look, Kate, Kate! The boys shout my name all the time, giving me their interpretations of the rut. It's a den! What makes you say that? I ask, and I engage them again in questions and observations and tell them stories of sign. Yes, I say, sometimes I will crawl into a den and look for animal hair. But they are gone, down the ridge to the huge mud puddles that contain frogs, frog eggs, and salamander eggs, getting muddy to get them in their hands. Eww (that's a good expression), squishy (that's also good). Kate! Kate! Look, one is hatching! We all get real close and stare at the eggs, 4 heads all so close we are almost touching. Then Nick steps back and says, Kate, Kate, this puddle looks like one big deer track! Exactly right, I say, and I get him to explain why. The boy is getting the pattern in a big way.

Then, a small figure catches my eye to the left. It's a little person! Stories of the Little People from many native traditions flash through my mind. We head over to the small figure to explore and see it is an old stature of a boy reaching out to take a horse, one of the old statues from the day when people did that. It is cemented into the spot and the boys interpret what the figure is doing, all yelling about it. He's pointing! They say, but I am turned and looking down along the land that is separated from the flood plain by a creek. Wow! This is it! I have entered the Magic Zone.

Large sycamores mark the river valley, and they are a-plenty here, with paths running here and there among large trees and shrubs. Lesser celandine, a small yellow flower, is blooming in clumps, and I know that if Little People did live there, they would choose this place. I am on fire. I just want to dive in and go and go, looking, sniffing and feeling every corner of this place, but I know I have to get the boys back. They are exploring another den, so I engage them in questions again, and listen to the boys spin stories. My son explains to me the stick he has is magic. Yes, I think, if you found it here. I organize them to head back, and we all agree, we need more time out in the forest together. Maybe four hours, they say.

I am filled with longing to stay and explore. It is hard to turn back from the Zone, but as we hoof it home, we are rewarded. A deer herd streams past us just yards ahead. I have seen pictures of just this kind of image, the animals in almost single file, maybe two deep, but the picture is not the same as the real thing. Maybe this is why artists like to try and capture this moment, but the beauty, grace, and sensuality of the moment are better live. The boys are once again in awe.

What a great day. As we head out, I look back and see the Blue Ridge mountains to the north and think that view can be seen from the Zone, and feel blessed that I am going to live here where I can go there every day if I want to, without driving, just head out my front door and down the path, to take in the river, the mountains, the trees, the plants, the animals whenever I want. I begin to see, in my mind's eye, the games I will play there with the children, and to see, also, that this will be their memory, the land imprinting on them as their home, over the years, growing up. Even when SOCA has their facility there, the Zone will stay, as I believe it is a planned park for Stonehaus.

For those readers on the fence about buying a home in Belvedere, consider that you are also buying access to this place, and your children will have access to all the magic this place has to offer. As a specialist in nature and children, I know this will be worth it. So don't wait, put your money down. You are not just buying a "new home." Stonehaus is working hard to build a place that will be beautiful, full of life and health, with access to nature and activity, and definitely a "great place" to live. Erika Howsare of Cville Weekly asked me, "How is it for you now when you go out there? You know, it is kind of like being on the moon." She is right, the land where the construction is happening is cleared and flat and empty except for stakes, a few houses, lots of equipment. But I laughed and told her, "I have faith." I see the vision. If you want to live in Belvedere, just do it before you won't have another chance, especially now before prices go up.

We track every Wednesday afternoon. Feel free to email me with questions,

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