Gerhard Mushroom, Botany Teacher
The fifth grade had its first overnight Foraging Field Trip this week and it was an overwhelming success! Although the temperature did drop quite low, the children exaggerated when they claimed there was snow on their sleeping bags and it is simply not true that their nettle soup froze in their bowls. What active imaginations our little gnomes have! How sweet their little temperaments! Remember as you hear their stories of our wonderful field trip how tenuous the child’s grasp of reality is at this stage in their development!
Our field trip began with a rousing walk up Breakfoot Mountain and a bracing, if unintentional, swim in the river (which was unexpectedly high for this time of year). We sang every song in the Waldorf Song Book, and then started again at the beginning. How delightful to hear the innocent voices of the children in harmony with the natural sounds of the chill wind in the trees, the birds in the air and the coyotes in the glen below. I took the occasion to remind the students of the tale of Hansel and Gretel and how those clever children survived by their own ingenuity in the forest.
We found many species of edible plants and had ample opportunity to marvel at earth’s bounty. While I also took care to teach the children to identify poisonous plants, especially any enticing poison mushrooms and berries, I want to make it clear to all of those parents who have emailed me that it is emphatically not the case that Vishnu Smith-Allen ingested Cicuta virosa (commonly known as poison hemlock, cowbane or poison parsnip). While it is true that little Vishnu Smith-Allen may possibly have experienced anaphylactic shock, and that as a very prudent precaution he was revived by means of his EpiPen (when we finally found it in his knapsack that had unfortunately been left behind in the cave where we had taken shelter from a very brief hail storm earlier that day), his allergic reaction was not caused by the innocent flora we gathered on our field trip.
In fact what happened, and there is ample iPhone video footage, illicitly taken by Bean Curd Bradley on his smuggled smartphone, to back up this claim, is that little Vishnu had eaten a purloined bag of Reece’s Pieces peanut butter candy and had a reaction to it. Apparently little Vishnu was inspired by a film entitled E.T. The Extra Terrestrial which he very unfortunately had been allowed to watch by his older brother who was visiting from The Commune—something which I hasten to point out is a flagrant violation of The Burning Badger Waldorf School Media Policy. This film, as the very attractive Happy Valley intern who kindly accompanied us on the foraging trip explained, was an early example of that immoral practice now called “product placement” whereby evil corporations selling unwholesome foods to youngsters pay to have their toxic foodstuffs featured in Hollywood films.
It would be hard to come up with a better cautionary tale of the dangers of the media for children!
At the suggestion of the head of the Collegium of Burning Badger, Waldorf School I have included several delightful eighteenth -century engravings of the innocent flora we encountered on our field trip (though admittedly no flowers were actually in bloom in November) to further reassure all parents that no harm was done. Note that I was forced to obtain these images on the internet (using the computer I have hooked up to my solar panel in my tree house study) as my beloved copy of the book from which they are taken, the Phytanthoza iconographia of Johann Wilhelm Weinmann (1683-1741), was a tragic casualty of our foraging field trip. This book, a very rare copy of which was presented to me on my graduation from the gymnasium in Basel, was among my most prized possessions. Perhaps a grateful and generous parent may remember the incident at the river when it comes to the yuletide season.
We are lucky that all of the participants in the field trip survived and we look forward to venturing up Brokefoot Mountain again next year, perhaps earlier in the autumnal season.