Traveling in the Space-Time Continuum (Session 6, July 22)

By Sandy Schenck

Hmmm, the physics of the space-time continuum might be a bit beyond our (my!) reach, but we do travel space-wise here, moving up and down and over and across terrain on mentor hikes, and time-wise as well, as we imagine how life was in this region in pioneer days and before that.  We often find spearheads and arrowpoints on the Farm; these archaeological finds suggest the sociological structures of the Native American cultures who were here way before us—hunters and warriors.  And before lunch yesterday, Sandy was telling us about the species of animals that might have roamed the area in past eras, including woolly mammoths and mastodons.  We’re not sure what dimension the imagination fits into, but as we explore the Preserve and its history, and as we learn new activities, we are moving forward, even as we are often looking back.

After a hearty breakfast—oatmeal, sausage, biscuits, fresh fruit, cereal, yogurt (biscuits are a camp favorite!)—this morning, mentor hikes began.  Some campers stayed in camp, splitting the morning between the climbing tower and the Pioneer Cabin.  At the Pioneer Cabin, they tried making fire with flint and steel; every single camper was able to do it today, which is quite impressive.  It’s hard to get a spark from the flint and steel—you have to strike it at just the right angle.  While at the Pioneer Cabin, they also talked about what life might have been like in the 1800’s, and what their favorite past-time might have been:  shucking corn, hunting, and trips to the outhouse made the list!  At the Farm, they got to experience what their life might have been like in a primarily agricultural society, harvesting 91 pounds of green tomatoes, lots of green beans, and some dill, too.  They cooled off afterward with a creek hike, where they came upon a snake’s carcass, and they also saw some interesting fungi.  One group set out for the Pine Barrens, a grove of white pines that is “cathedral-like,” as one of our staff members says; then they bushwhacked around for a while, exploring new dips and curves and hills.  Our Uncle’s Falls polarbears saw lots of salamanders and also a rattlesnake!  (Now we have seen two deer and two snakes—halfway to a double Grand Slam!)  They also made their own face paint, using mud—much the same way our ancestors might have done.  Campers and staff who hiked from Green River Road to the Lower Bald and then on to the Upper Bald were thinking a lot about the spatial dimension of travel—lots of up! and up and up.  But they were rewarded with the magnificent views of the Green River Valley that the Balds afford and also with seeing a rabbit in the wild.

After lunch and rest hour, campers and staff began a new round of activities.  The climbing tower was open and climbers moved up! and up and up again.  Lots of campers made it to the top of the tower today; there’s a bell they can ring when they get to the top.  In canoeing, campers were traversing the lake, cutting across the smooth plane of the water, practicing their strokes and steering.  (And, hmmm, if you are canoeing around and around a smaller lake, is that moving forward?!?!)  They also practiced capsizing and their “t”-rescue.  In dance, campers were exploring the use of motion for a purpose besides traveling—instead, a dancer uses the motion of their body to express their emotions and to convey a particular type of knowledge.  We had our first periods of fly-fishing meet today; they were spread out around the lake, learning about the equipment and practicing their casts.  Fly-fishing is perhaps a combination of geometry and physics, with the angle of the cast working in tandem with the pull of gravity, pulling the fly to the water….  Other campers opted for outdoor cooking, where they fried up some of those green tomatoes from the Farm and took apples and plums from our orchard in the East Field and made apple-plum cider—perhaps outdoor cooking is more a matter of chemistry.  Either way, it’s fun—and tastes good!

After dinner (and, yummy, chocolate pudding for dessert), we gathered at the Lower Council Fire ring in the East Field for evening program.  We heard a couple of stories and sang some songs.  Even our songs and stories had elements of space and time movement tonight.  We sang “My Bonny Lies Over the Ocean,” and then we added movement to that—you sing it through a second time, but whenever you sing a word that begins with a “b,” you stand up or sit down, depending on your current position.  Then you really complicate matters by singing it again, asking all the boys to start standing up and the girls to start sitting down!  And the term “terminal velocity” came up in a story a staff member told, a story about a tribe threatened by a mythical black raven; they leap over a waterfall to safety in the pool far below.  But they were scared to leap, initially, as we all might be, if we imagined the speed at which we would hit the water—would you hit terminal velocity before then?!?!  We also heard a beautiful version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” from a camper, a song that suggests that our imagination can overcome the limitations imposed on us by the physics of our material world.  Or, as the song itself assures us, “Somewhere over the rainbow / Skies are blue / And the dreams that you dare to dream / Really do come true.”

We had blue skies here today….and then it rained, during rest hour….and then it cleared up, conveniently, for afternoon activities and evening program.  You can see some pictures from today’s travels here, and we’re working on uploading more.  Here’s to more blue skies tomorrow!