Back to school is always an exciting time of the year, and it’s no different at the Farmstead! The Explorers group is also a brand new class for older kids this year, and we have our own new classroom space on campus so everything is interesting and different, even for our returning students who moved up from Littlest Learners! September also brings the Harvest Moon and Fall Equinox, which together remind us that this is a time of transition when we should focus on our communities, building and gathering things together, and experiencing our special place in nature with a fresh perspective as the seasons change.
September started out a little rainy at the Farmstead, but it’s been pretty dry ever since then. During the rainy weeks, the Explorers noticed lots of mosquitos, a baby black snake, and various red, brown, and white mushrooms living in the unbothered leaves, dead trees, and brush around our classroom deep in the forest. We fought through nearly-invisible spider webs every day on the hike in, only to find them built again by our hike out. We’ve seen countless end-of-summer fuzzy caterpillars, brown lizards, black walnuts, and acorns, and discovered new things like gall wasps, pelecinid wasps, and invasive hammerhead worms. We’ve already spotted two Eastern Box Turtles and a perfectly camouflaged reddish-brown toad that we’ve seen so many times near our nature “sit spots” that we named it! At the beginning of the month, we were constantly seeing hummingbirds around the blooming jewelweed and the fading scarlet bee balm in the schoolyard, but as the Equinox passed, the days and nights quickly cooled, and we went from near constant hummingbird action down to the elusive thrill of “oh I think I saw one!”.
We’ve embraced our new Explorers community with enthusiasm, encouraging each other during our steep morning hike into the woods, noting that it is getting easier every week. Our classroom on the side of the mountain has also taught us many lessons in gravity as we see how easily our water bottles and pencils can roll away if we’re not careful! The kids have spent lots of time building together in their new nature play zone, assembling stick forts, helping clear new trails, and rearranging fallen logs.
Deep in the forest, we’ve also noticed the weather changing and leaves starting to turn with the beginning of Fall. We cherish our sunny sit spots during morning reflection time on the cooler days and enjoy dappled light through the leaves on hot afternoons. We’re very excited to see some red and yellow leaves starting to form and fall, and we’re all looking forward to seeing our beautiful mountains change as Fall deepens in October!