Ontario Trackers club

May 2000 Meeting

A Caretaking weekend at Mike & Marcia's

Each person who attended the meeting shared their experiences and thoughts on it in their own way
(and even one who didn't attend!)


These reports inspired one Ontario Tracker who couldn't make it to the meeting, Linda Klintworth, to write a poem.

Guided By the Spirit

I read the stories they had told of a friendly get-together.
They were blessed from up above with bright and sunny weather
They came upon a place needing help, the kind that they could give
With sweat and love they toiled, so a little stream would live.
They pulled out filth and murky muck and placed in stones for air
With effort and in peace, each one, showed how much they care
--By the time their work was finished, the happy spring ran clear
And nature smiled upon them all and shed a grateful tear
For these gentle folks has seen beyond their wants, and listened to their souls
And through their efforts, lovingly, a stream was now made whole.
I'm very proud of this fine group that grows more every day.
As Earth Mother smiles from up above and gently guides their way.

Absent in body---but always with you all in spirit....many thanks....Linda

    The weekend at Mike and Marcia's was very rewarding. The work done has taken an area that was suffocating due to neglect to an area that now feels renewed.
    When we began, there seemed to be an impenetrable wall of tangled and toppled trees. The ground growth had  been stifled by the thick coat of ground cover. The lifeless stream moved along only because gravity made it do so. It wasn't a warm comfortable place. It cried out in a quiet muffled voice for help.
    After 2 days of co-operative work, guided by our hearts, the area is forever changed. We can now see the sun sparkle in the stream. It now dances with a laughter that has not been heard here for quite some time. We can now walk without getting tangled up in or tripping over fallen trees. We can now see healthy trees that have a real chance to reach for the sky. The forest floor is now less cluttered which will allow new growth a chance to begin.
    Even though my muscles are a little sore and I am feeling tired from the heat, I know I'd do it all again. It's wonderful to know that we have made a difference.
    This weekend has given me hope that there are other people, like us, who genuinely care and that the earth can be saved from human greed and abuse. I learned that it really doesn't take much effort to make a big difference. I also learned that more can be done by a group of caring people sharing the same vision or goal.
    It is so easy to take for granted the air, water and life giving nutrients that are provided to us by the Earth. And yet, without her, we are nothing. You would think we, as a species of such high intelligence, would understand this and take better care of Mother Earth.
    Imagine what progress could be made if everyone in the world spent more time with their hands in the dirt, caring for our Earth Mother.

David Browne

    One Saturday morning my family went to Mike and Marcia's house   Their house is five to ten minutes from Kathy and David's house.  When we arrived we brought our luggage into the house.  At first we only saw Marcia and David.  David had to go into town.  Marcia showed us around the house.  One room had a mattress with tons of their children.  I put my children in with theirs.   I put my cougar, donkey and horse with the bears, my dog with the dogs and my penguin with the penguins.  The Grand Hall had six bears.  The Yellow one's name was Lemonade, Red was Raspberry, Blue was Blueberry, Purple is Grape, Green was Pistachio, and Orange was Marmalade.  There was a dog named Bear.  Dasher and Dancer and Twinkles are reindeer.
    Then we went outside.  Marcia told my sisters and I to make homes for the rodents.  So, Sequoia, Autumn-Willow and I made debris huts.   Autumn-Willow and I made two and Sequoia made one.  Dad (Eric), Kathy, Mike and Marcia cut down some dead trees and made piles of brush.  Mom (Kim) and Walter cleaned up the stream.  After I did the debris huts I cleaned up the stream too.   The stream had muck in it and we removed most of it.  We set up rocks to get ripple effects, which put oxygen into the water.  The stream was home to many crayfish.  I had lots of fun!
    After a while of working, Marcia called us to come in and have lunch.   We ate and talked.  I ate a tomato and cheese sandwich.  Then we went out and continued working.
    After a while I went for a walk.  Where we were walking it was a swampy area so my feet were all wet.  I was the first person to arrive back at Mike and Marcia's house.  We all had a drink then went back to work.  A little later we had dinner.  Kathy and David took some wood home to use for a fire.  Then they came back.  Then we roasted marshmallows and met three kids that lived downstairs.
    That night Walter slept in the stuffed toy room, Kathy and David went home, Mom and Dad and Kali slept in the Great Hall, and Autumn-Willow, Sequoia and I slept in the room with the TV.  (The Great Hall is the whole room upstairs).  Sequoia and I couldn't sleep so we crept upstairs and no one noticed us until we stood up!   Then we went downstairs and went to sleep.
    The next morning we had breakfast then went outside.  Mike helped Sequoia and I get our Forestry badge for Girl Guides.  To get the badge you have to be able to: identify five types of trees and/ or shrubs, describe three types of forests, name some things that are made from forests and trees, describe good forestry and show how forest management and forest conservation are linked, and name three major forest enemies and their effect on the forest.  Then we cleaned up the stream then I pushed the wheelbarrow, when it was full of sticks and debris, across the bridge and into a pile.   Then Dad went home.  (When we drove there Mom, Kali and I went in one car and Dad, Sequoia and Autumn-Willow went in another.)  Dad brought some of our luggage home.  He went home early because he had a soccer practice.
    Walter, Mom, David and Kathy loaded up Kathy and David's van with wood while Mike and I put wood chips on the ground so no one would step on the Jack-in-the-Pulpit.  After a while Sequoia started to help but Autumn-Willow soon took her place.  We packed up the car and Kathy and David left after saying good-bye.   Then we said our good-byes and went home

Felicia Saunders (age 11)

Warmth, Loving feeling, Radiating from afar, intended for us.
Venturing into unknown territory, uncertain of how to help.
I heard the stream's calls, drawing me closer.
It faintly resembled a stream.
There was water and rocks, but mostly debris heavily laden with mud and silt.
My friend Walter was in the middle of the stream helping her.
I followed his lead.
She encompassed me with her cool refreshing water.
As I cleaned under her rocks and removed the sticks and debris that hindered her flow
I felt a deep connection with her.
She spoke to me,
Orchestrating my movements
Accepting my stroking and reverence.
During this time of healing, for us both, I went in and out of a meditative state.
I hadn't had this much fun in a very long time.
I as a natural child
The Stream, Regenerative and Hopeful, was thankful.
No Expectation
Pure Bliss

Kim Saunders

    The best part was the feeling that comes to you when you see the progress of opening the woods so that it can breathe and function normally.
    And now the need to return periodically to watch the undergrowth come to life.
    It was very satisfying to dangle my bare feet in the stream at the end of the weekend, watching crayfish and seeing the clear water dance around the rocks.
    It is good to know that a small group of people can make such an impact in such a short period of time.

Kathy Browne

    Great walk over fallen limbs, dead falls, brush tangles.  I enjoy moving, climbing.  This was a challenge as there was water everywhere, but I kept my feet dry.
    I learned the original ideas of Baden-Powell were much closer to Tracker philosophy than the program that is presently offered.  I didn't realize how much life was under rocks in streams.  Mike pointed out a lot.  A lot of relevant environmental issues were talked about, including the governments' role in causing ever deepening damage.

Eric Saunders

    At Marcia and Mike's house I liked walking in the stream and picking up the mud.  I also liked making a mouse house.  I asked if I could put cheese around the mouse house and I could.
    Now I well tell you about the stream.  At first I would not go in the stream, but then I noticed that it would be fun!  I got on my water shoes.   I took one step in the water.  It was nice and refreshing.  But after I took another step I got mud all over my shoes!  I kept walking through the water until I thought it would be hard to get off all the mud.  So I got out of the water.   Walter, Mom (Kim) and Felicia were cleaning out the stream so it could flow better. and make a waterfall.  They were moving the rocks and the mud and guck.
    Well that night we had a camp fire.  We ate lots of marshmallows.   Downstairs from Mike and Marcia's house lives a girl named Lea and her two brothers and her mother.  They came to the fire too!  There is a children's playground too!  There is a slide, a swing, monkey bars, and a rope to climb a tree.
    We stayed at Mike and Marcia's house for Saturday and Sunday.   Today is Sunday.  Before we leave we are going to pick a recipe from a cookbook for birds.  We will pick one and Mike and Marcia will give it to the birds.

Sequoia Saunders (age 9)

    Thank-you everyone who came to clear up a neglected area.  The land needed to be freed of years of build-up.
    Three work parties unfolded spontaneously.  The stream crew removed years of debris and fallen leaves and branches, allowing the stream a new freedom.   The woods crew cut fallen trees, removed dead fall, raked years of leaf build-up and freed up room for new trees to grow and plants to have the space and sunlight to flourish.  The slugger crew did a bit of both - doing the tree cutting with chain saw, lifting and lugging as well as replacing worn out bridges for safe crossing over the stream.
    The results?  Happily exhausted people and a wooded area that feels light and hopeful and a water way the sparkles with vitality.
    Walter gave instructions to our youngest work parties who proceeded to make some great mouse houses!  One even has some cheese nearby for nourishment and enticement.  Walter also gave suggestions for ongoing caretaking other property.
    Mike gave a lesson on Sunday morning on dendrology and everyone got to examine the underside of stream rocks to learn about the busy world that exists there.
    Food of course was in ample supply as everyone brought something to contribute to the many meals we got to share together.  Saturday night resulted in a marshmallow roast.
    For me, I had the privilege of spending time with folks who care as deeply for the earth as I do - wonderful people who work hard, play lots and laugh from the toes up!
    It was a productive and enjoyable weekend.  To those who came and shared their time, their muscles and themselves, thank-you.
    To those who were unable to make it - we missed you!  Hope to encourage some new faces at our next Tracker meeting - each one brings new adventures, lots of learning and the enjoyment of a great bunch of like-minded people.

Marcia Nelson (host)

    I just wanted to take a moment to say thank-you to everyone who came out to help caretake the land we're sharing for now.  In twenty + years of doing environmental work, and thirty + years of being in the woods, I've seen ecosystems in a wide variety of conditions, from pristine to massive clearcut.  The land here suffered mostly from neglect.  Although it was mostly healthy, it certainly needed a helping hand.
    Margaret Mead once said something like - Never underestimate the ability of a small group of dedicate people to make change in the world.  Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.  Nothing was more evident on the weekend we shared with so many good people.  From the smallest to the largest, youngest to oldest, everyone gave their time, their energy, and their knowledge to a common cause.  We were only able to help a small section of the property, but the results were amazing.   The other parts of the forest are all yelling "Me too!"  In time we will work to help the rest of the land here as well.  Although I have been a loner all my life, even I can come to appreciate being surrounded by loving friends who will come to your aid when asked.  To me the Tracker community is more than people who know how to make bow drill fires, track across rocks or who have taken the first five Philosophy courses.  To me the Tracker community are individuals who come together to share knowledge and support, to teach and to learn, and who together seek to benefit this tiny blue marble we call earth.  To all those who came to Hillsburgh, our endless thanks.  To those who were unable to attend, we hope this letters will encourage you to attend the next meeting.  Everyone has something to share, and that sharing happens best with a group of people who are willing to listen and to learn.

Mike Pedde (host)

The funniest thing I did was stalking up on people.  No one heard me except for David.  He came over twice - saw me twice and heard me twice.

Autumn-Willow Saunders (age 5)

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