During the past few days we’ve experienced rain and wind. Storms have arrived, not just our usual Pacific Northwest rainy weather. Today at Wise Child Learning and with the Heartstone Children’s Program, we told stories of about our experiences in storms, with Rachel, one of the Heartstone instructors, and myself talking about an incredible windstorm that took place here about six years ago — before most of these kids were even born!
A friend of mine had had this experience with that windstorm. At the time she and her family lived in a yurt. As she went outside in the middle of the night, she noticed something of which her brain couldn’t make sense at first. The ground was heaving up and down around a tree. Then she realized. The tree was uprooting, blowing back and forth. She ran inside to wake her family. A tremendous snap, crash and boom followed. The tree missed hitting the yurt by about a foot. Nearby another tree fell, but though it crashed onto the goat pen, the log round supports sheltered the goats, and the tree ended up being like a roof for the goat pen!
Well, our sporadic winds of the past few days and nights haven’t matched that night of the windstorm by a long shot. But we are reminded that Thunderbird — who came into being, they say, by the North Wind and the South Winds crashing together — is on the wing. It is said that Thunderbird follows the ocean winds. The kids and I played in puddles today and mimicked Thunderbird, flying in from the ocean, clouds pouring rain in our wake to travel over the mountains and let loose rain (or snow). On the other side of the mountains, the clouds thin, and less rain falls, and so the eastern side of the mountains is said to be in rainshadow.
Native wisdom says to stay inside the plankhouses until Thunderbird has passed by. We took note of this wisdom and stayed out of the forest today!
What does your native lore tell about the storms and weather in your area? After learning about Thunderbird with its curved beak, curled horns, lightning in its wings and thunder clapping from its wing beat I can now clearly envision and even see this being in the sky.
Who or what do you see in the storm clouds, in the wind and the rain and the snow? If you are sharing nature with children, see if you can discover some native tales about the weather you experience. You might find that what you uncover can help you explain characteristics of your bioregion, just as Thunderbird flying in with the ocean winds helps to reveal the characteristics of lush forest on the western slopes and rainshadow on the eastern.
In our shared curriculum with Heartstone inspired by the Thanksgiving Address of the Haudenosaunee, we are this moon honoring Weather. If the Thanksgiving Address inspires you I invite you to read a blog post I wrote a few years ago in honor of this time of year, taking note in particular of the Thanksgiving Address: The Secret Of Thanksgiving. I encourage you to create your own “Thanksgiving Address” with your children. In your own words, give thanks to the land, creatures, nature and spirit around you, including as much diversity as feels right to you. It’s a beautiful practice!