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June 2024 - opâskâwêhowi-pîsim (Egg Hatching Moon)

Welcome to the third blog post of my 13 Grandmother Moon journey! Leaves are starting to fill the sky and the paths I travel on toward my special place.

I'm excited to get back to the Mill Creek Ravine, after having been away to Montreal and Ottawa last week. I visited this place on a very special day - it's the summer solstice, the longest day of the year! As I walk through the woods to my special place, the sun warms my skin and the sky is blue overhead. There are fresh green leaves everywhere, and the air and ground are sprinkled with little white bits of cottony fluff. I can hear birds calling and the water as it moves it through the ravine, and I smell that special mix of earth, new life, running water, and nature that I've come to associate with this place.

I've been reflecting on language over the past moon, and was recently taught by Dwayne Donald that in Nêhiyawêwin Cree the Mill Creek Ravine is known as kâhasinîskâk sîpîsis. This means water moving over stones. I read recently that most people can identify 100 corporate logos but only 10 plants, and I have a goal to shift that balance for myself as I engage with my journey through these 13 Grandmother Moons. I know that the pink flowers on the right are wild rose flowers, and the purple ones in the background are lilacs - I love lilacs! The scent of the flowers perfumes the air. I also adore these tiny pink flowers and their glossy green leaves. My family often pinches a blossom to suck the drop of sweet nectar that emerges. Today, I discovered that the name of this wonderful plant is a Peking cotoneaster, and it is not native to Canada.

The other thing I notice is the abundance of white fluff, it floats through the air and collects on the sides of the paths. I love its softness, its lightness, and how it tickles my skin. This fluff, I now know, comes from a Cottonwood tree. Many Indigenous peoples view this tree as sacred, and the white fluff that only female trees produce contains seeds that drift over the land. Indigenous peoples have historically used all parts of the tree - the trunk to make a canoe, the bark and leaves for clothing dye or glue, and the buds for their medicinal properties. As I was looking up the name for the tree, I learned that its twigs often contain stars! [I have also recently been taught that the white poplar is a very special tree for local Indigenous people, and on further digging discovered that this tree falls into an aspen/poplar/cottonwood category ... My Google search is unclear, and as it turns out identifying this specific tree is much harder than it would seem! I am trying to learn, there is so much to know, and even something as simple as identifying a tree is much more complex than I would have ever guessed].

During this moon, what is being communicated to me is fulfilment and filling. The promises of early spring are being fulfilled with the richness of the growth around me, and the space itself is being filled - fresh green life fill the ground which was recently barren, the spaces between the trees are being filled with leaves, and the very air itself is being filled with white cottony drifts and tiny clouds of gnats. I also sense that excitement, joy, and silliness is being communicated: the energy in this space cannot be contained, the white drifts seem like a playful iteration of snow, and the tickles from the cotton puffs cannot be ignored.

I am perceiving what is being communicated with all of my senses: touch, sight, smell, hearing, and even taste, as the flowery perfume of the plants around me filtrates into my body. I interpret what is being communicated slowly - it is awe-inspiring to be in nature, almost overwhelming to see all the greenery sprout up in this space, and surprising to recognize that the land actually feels silly and playful! The way the gnats dance in the breeze, synchronized yet incoherent; how the white cotton dances in the air and collects on the ground; and the sense that time itself feels free, open, and easy - energy, joy, excitement, and frivolity fully permeate this space.

My attempts to express what I am learning are offered in the peg dolls below. I gathered some loose cotton fluffs before leaving, making a mental note to remember to bring a gift of tobacco the next time I spend time here (I happily crushed the first pink flower to sip its nectar, then felt guilt as I pressed the second blossom; I am being taught to NOT take without asking, to make a request, to honor the plant, and to give thanks in return to negotiate a collaborative, reciprocal relationship with nature ... over 40 years of living one way will take time to shift, so I give myself grace and remember to do better going forward). I offer the white peg dolls as the bits of cottonwood/poplar/aspen fluff, the pink flower as a reminder of the fragrance and taste of spring and summer blossoms, and the raindrops to acknowledge the cool wetness of this year's Egg Hatching moon, which this year is much less warm and sunny than typical spring seasons. If I had to choose just one symbol as the winter count, it would be the whimsical fluff-child in the middle top row below.

3 tips for going outside with children in rainy weather.

One of my favorite sayings is, "Skin is waterproof in anticipation of rain". As long as there isn't lightening or large hail in the sky, playing in the rain is a wonderful way to spend time with children! Below are three things I like to do with children in rainy weather, and for more ideas check out The Wild Weather Book: Loads of things to do outdoors in rain, wind and snow.

1 - Floating Toys.

One of the easiest ways to have fun in the rain is to take advantage of the puddles it creates. Taking floating toys outside like boats or rubber ducks is a great way to reuse items you already have. You can also make fun toys yourself; there are cork boats, origami boats, and much more!

2 - Raindrop Painting.

Sometimes the rain is just coming down too hard, or you have already played outside for hours and now the children are cold and dripping wet. I love to paint with children at times like this, using tempera or watercolor paints. Then, lay each painting on a cookie sheet and set it outside under the falling rain! This can be done with fresh wet paintings or those that have already dried. Just don't leave it out for too long, or the rain may wash all of the paint away.

3 - Rain Walks!

This is my favorite way to enjoy the rain: just get outside and walk through it. Of course, with young children there is little walking; instead there is running, puddle jumping, splashing, and stopping to examine the worms! Bring an umbrella or leave it at home, and soak up the many benefits of rainy days rather than staying cooped up inside.

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