In January, February, and March, the Pacific Northwest days march on, damp and dark. There is a general sogginess to the world. I used to think that there was nothing outside but bare branches. Everything seemed dead and asleep. When I started to investigate the wet wintry landscape with the children we began to see life everywhere. Tiny. Hiding. Resting. Waiting. Reminding us of cycles, and the sunshine on the horizon. Lurking just beneath the surface.
This week, some of our chicks hatched. Some didn’t. We talked about embryos and how we all start as cells and look very much the same. We wondered what happened inside of the eggs that didn’t hatch. We wondered if chicks have something like a bellybutton from where they are attached to the yolk as they grow (they do), and talked about why they don’t need milk and can eat solid food. We wondered if they know they don’t have a Mama hen, and how they might be feeling. We were amazed by how strong they are when they are so small and so new. We touched them and held them and sang to them and watched them fall asleep in our hands.
We noticed how big our goat is getting. We see legs and a head and try to guess how many babies she is growing. Maybe one, or two, or even three. We remembered when our friends and family members had babies in their tummies, and thought about how we used to fold up like that too. We wondered if the baby goats can talk to each other in their water world inside their Mama. We wondered if she will have enough for milk for them if there are more than two. We watch her eat next to the kid she had last year. We wondered if last year’s baby knows what is coming, and how she feels about being a sister. Someone asked how a baby goes poop while it’s floating in the water. I told them that the umbilical cord gives them nutrients and also takes the waste away, so the Mama eats and poops for the babies. The children then asked what happens if that special cord gets pinched so nothing can get through, so we talked about that as well. Then we talked about how bodies and babies are amazing, and if they love these things maybe they can be midwives or nurses or doctors when they get bigger.
The earth and the trees are getting ready to be green and bright and put on a show. We watch the new life emerging from seeds and sprouts, and see the trees getting ready to unfurl their leaves, and we are excited. In order to notice these changes we had to go back over and over to the same trees and dirt and secret places, and watch the way they were affected by weather and the way they changed over time. Today there was a flood, and a field became a wetland. We wonder how this will affect the plants and animals we have been watching.