Stories from the Kalahari: Jodi’s Blog Part 2, Language

Our guide through the Kalahari Desert, Xigao, drinking stored water with a hollow stick out of an ostrich egg

Stories From the Kalahari: Part 1

We were welcomed warmly by our hosts, guides and new friends from the Kalahari. Everyone spoke different languages and we were fortunate to be accompanied by Niljke, a translator who grew up with the Bushmen and speaks Naro & Afrikaans in addition to English. The Bushmen we spent time with speak Naro, a language with clicks. Niljke translated our conversations when she was around, but even without our translator, we could sense their warmth & desire to connect through body movements, gestures and song!  It was so fun to practice clicking. The man in this photo is Xigao. Jon Young taught me a trick to pronounce his name. Try this: say the word of the chocolate bean, “cacao”, but  instead of pronouncing the first C, make a click. Try it, it’s fun. Start by making a click with the tongue on the roof of your mouth, then add the sound “a-cow”.

When Nijlke was translating for us, we exchanged more facts and information about plant names, how they are used for food & medicine, what family life is like, how children are cared for at birth, what part of the tree is harvested for digging sticks, how the ostrich egg was cleaned before using it as a water storage container and many of the other questions we carried to the Kalahari. But even when she was not there, we experienced each other quietly and with laughter. One day, 8 of us travelers were dropped off in the village without a translater. We were spending time with about 20 or more Bushmen and not really saying much. Matt Kirk, from Kauai Nature School, John Michael from Michigan and I started playing games with the kids – taking sticks bending them to make hoops and tossing them, practicing our best animal forms, playing clapping games and laughing. It was fun! When Nijlke returned, the grown up conversations began and the kids shifted back near the grass huts.

I have since learned that many of the Bushmen we met in the village were from different regions and have learned Naro to share a common language, but were raised speaking many different languages.

To read Part 3 of Jodi’s Kalahari Blog click here: Kalahari Journal Part 3: Living Locally

Permaculture Course at Fairview Gardens

Permaculture Flyer

Instructor: Toby Hemenway  Director of The Center for Pattern Literacy Learn to create sustainable living In Urban and Suburban Environment The Center for Urban Agriculture at Fairview Gardens

 PERMACULTURE Urban Sustainablilty  

72 hour certification course + lectures + tours + films + guest speakers + workshops + lunches

Six Weekends Six Months  

Starts May 26 & 27, 2012 

Fairview Gardens, 598 N. Fairview Ave  Goleta, Ca 93117 1-805-967-7369 

PRESENTERS Toby Hemenway  Special Guests: Warren Brush, Larry Santoyo, Brock Dolman, John Valenzuela and Michael Becker

The Instructor Toby Hemenway:  the author of Gaia’s Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture, which for the last seven years has been the best-selling permaculture book in the world. He has been an adjunct professor at Portland State University, Schol- ar-in-Residence at Pacific University, and is currently a field director at the Permaculture Institute (USA). Toby has presented lectures and workshops at major sustainability conferences such as Bioneers, SolFest, and EcoFarm, and at Duke University, Tufts University, University of Minnesota, University of Delaware and many other educational venues. His writing has appeared in magazines such as Whole Earth Review, Natural Home, and Kitchen Gardener. He has contributed book chapters for WorldWatch Institute and to several publications on ecological design programs.

Course Will Cover
* Plant Guilds, Polycultures and Succession Planting *Aquaculture and Micro Livestock
*Urban Animal Husbandry
*Water Use & Reuse, Swales, Ponds, Rainwater Collection *Pattern Understanding and Observation
*Climatic Factors and Climate and Microclimates
*Sustainable Building & Retrofitting Energy Conservation *Trees and their Energy Transactions
*Guilds, Polycultures, Succession
*Various Climatic Factors: Focus on the Temperate Climate *Practical Work on Design
*Permaculture Ethics, Principles
*The Business of Permaculture: creating an urban livelihood

During the course we will have site work and visit urban farms, Community Supported Agricultural (CSA) farms, Green and natural building sites and eco-homesteads.

What is Permaculture? Permaculture co-founder, Bill Mollison states: “Permaculture is a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted & thoughtful  observation rather than protracted & thoughtless action; of looking at systems in all their functions rather than asking only one yield of them & of allowing systems to demonstrate their own evolutions.” Derived from Permanent and Culture, as follows: Permanent: From the Latin permanens, to remain to  the end, to persist throughout (per = through, manere = to continue) – Culture: From the Latin cultura -  cultivation of land, or the intellect. Now generalized to mean all those habits, beliefs, or activities than  sustain human societies.

Permaculture is applied observation of nature and a  design process for creating sustainable living  systems on your land.  It matters not if your land happens to be a suburban home in Santa Barbara, Ca, a rural farm in the Imo State of Nigeria or the second story of a three-flat on the south side of  Chicago.

Permaculture is sustainability by design before sustainability by device.   Observing patterns in nature is  really no more than common sense.  If we apply this common sense to our post modern lives we will save time and money and be better informed on which appropriate technologies we really need.


Forest Kindergarten: Caroline’s Blog Part 2

Linkto Forest Kindergarten Caroline’s Blog: Part 1 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012, O’Neill Regional Park
The sky was filled with warm sunshine, busy winged creatures and colorful flying foxes whizzing by. We made an end of the year toy out of my old jeans, extra fabric, rice, and ribbons. Whoosh! Our story characters learned a little bit about human hands and a little bit about how to treat their friends. Them we concluded the year with an appreciation circle. I appreciate your taking the time to read my blog. Thanks for a great first year of Forest Kindergarten.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012, O’Neill Regional Park, Trabuco, CA
The sun was shining bright and the kids were running like a pack of playful young squirrels. The profusion of caterpillars has given way to a profusion of butterflies and I heard tiny symphonies of hungry baby birds from the canopies of several trees. Our story characters heard Grandpa’s tale of lost children using the daily four directions chant to find their way back to their village. The characters we know used their knowledge of the four directions to find buried treasure in the yard. After that we used blindfolds to play hug a tree. We were so pleased to see how the children have grown in their sensory and directional knowledge, demonstrating a marked improvement from playing the game last fall. It’s working! The day closed with a golden eagle being chased away by a mob of crows. No crow babies on the menu this afternoon…

Wednesday May 23, 2012, Holy Jim Trail, Trabuco Canyon

What a treat, what a trek, and it was worth it. We started deep in the Trabuco Canyon headed for Holy Jim Falls, we glimpsed Saddleback Mountain and wound our way through dense foliage, much of it poison oak. Stately Oaks, Sycamores, and Fig Trees (planted by Holy Jim himself) provided ample shade and my personal obsession to remember to return midsummer for a fig feast. Our story characters learned again the old rhyme, “Leaves of three- let them be!”, though poison oak is a tricky plant and we know we can react to it without touching it directly. The pools and waterfalls were beautiful, and filled with laughing shouts and wild splashing as long as we were there. And we were there extra long!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012, San Juan Loop Trail, Cleveland National Forest  
What a great day for a hike. The sun was boisterous and warm. We found our greatest hazard of the day being slippery sandy trails.  We all took a turn slipping. Rock outcroppings showed us layers of lichen, moss, ferns, and vascular plants. Primary succession at play before our very eyes! Our story characters, after creating a rain and grey water garden, learned that trees haze xylem to transport water and nutrients to the leaves and other parts. In quiet sit time we found a heavily laden grainery left by some Acorn Woodpeckers who had stored away tightly packed acorns for the spring and summer.

8th Grader to install Rainwater Garden at School!

Earthroots is honored to be providing on campus ecological education at the Journey School in Aliso Viejo as one of their Green Partners.

OC Register Article
Aliso Viejo Patch Article
CBS 2 News Clip

8th Grade Student, Cyriene Adams inspired to design and install 

Rainwater harvesting demonstration Site
at Journey School a Public Charter Elementary School in Aliso Viejo, CA
Installation date: March 26th and 27th

Journey Parents and community Volunteers are invited to help  . . . 

Inspired by Brad Lancaster’s, (Author of Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond) presentation last year, one 8th Grade Journey Student, Cyriene Adams, has decided to create a rainwater harvesting installation on her elementary school campus. She’s currently receiving weekly one-on-one support with her Rainwater Harvesting project by Jodi Levine, director of Earthroots.
Cyriene measured and calculated how much rainwater falls on the school’s office that is currently being ineffectively washed down the drain. The goal of her project is to get as much water as possible absorbed into the soil to hydrate local native plants which will beautify the school entrance while offering habitat and food to local bees, butterflies, lizards and other creatures.

The installation of Cyriene’s design will be March 26 & 27 by 5th grade Journey School students, parent and community volunteers to include SOKA interns and Earthroots staff.  The group will dig a mulch basin to accommodate overflow rainwater from two roofs at the front of the school. 

“This project is changing lives and improving the environment around campus,”
 says Jodi Levine. Hundreds of people each day walk through this area of campus. It has not been effectively irrigated for years and needs more water. Instead of bringing in water from the city – one brilliant student, with support from Michelle Spieker, her 8th grade teacher Mr. Martin and Journey School administration & her mentor, Jodi Levine - Cyriene is demonstrating how we can all live in better balance with natural water flow. She is an incredible inspiration to her peers and elders alike

Parents and Community Volunteers welcome.  Please go to for more information. 

OC Homeschool Student builds a Cob Oven!

A letter from Nancy Berkson, mother of Soleil.

Hi Jodi,
I thought you would be interested in seeing Soleil’s latest project.  This semester we are studying the Torah and for our big project we built a cobb oven, just like the way people used to bake back in those days. It has taken us about six weeks, but today was our grand finale!
The first thing Soleil had to do was build a frame for the bricks.We learned about the importance of cutting the wood straight.Then we tried making bricks with different materials to find the strongest one. Sandy soil was not the ideal material. Eventually we figured out (and remembered that you used) soil, sand, clay, water, and straw.  We thought we could mix it in this box, but it was TOO heavy. So we did it Earthroots style
We stopped by the oven that Earthroots helped make (at South Coast Farms) way back when just to get a refresher on how we should do it… but on a much smaller scale. Our instructions said to just do a few layers and then leave a couple of days for it to dry.
Here we are, starting the 2nd round, and we had a little supervisor watching our progress… no, it wasn’t Sheaden, It was a very sweet tiny lizard!  See it on Sheaden’s elbow?
End of day 3
Putting on the final brick!!!! Soleil was so happy and proud of her work!
We lit a fire in it last Saturday night and let it burn for one hour.  The directions that I had said to do that to “settle” the bricks, and then today we lit a fire that burned for two hours.  It was kind of tricky to get it going in that small oven.  I think it took us four tries… but eventually we got it!
I wasn’t really sure what to do about an oven door, so I got a piece of cardboard and covered it with aluminum foil.  Now we were ready to make pizza!
We learned some important lessons with the first pie:  check it sooner than 10 minutes, and rotate it 1/2 way through. The second one turned out a LOT better.
Soleil was super happy and proud of how it all worked out.

I am so grateful for our experience with you, learning a bit about how to do these things.  It gave me the confidence to see this project through to the end.  When Brianna was in 3rd grade we were supposed to do this, but it just seemed too overwhelming to me at that time.  This was great though, and by the time Sheaden’s turn comes around I’ll be ready to go.  Thanks so much for all you have taught us.

Hope all is well with you!
Nancy Berkson

Evan’s Garden: Evan’s Blog

Tracks in the Mud
Our homeschool class explored Trabuco Creek on October 26. We found an area with cracked mud that held lots of clear animal animal tracks. Do you know whose feet made these?

Cactus Fruits, Yarrow, and Spiderwebs
It has been four years since I planted the nopal cactus in my garden. I cut five sections, called pads, off another cactus. After letting the cut end dry out and form a scab, I buried them about half way in the dirt, right out in the sun. Today, the five new cacti are taller than I am!

This is the first year the nopal cactus has had flowers and fruits. They are beautiful and delicious. They taste a bit like papaya.

I seem to get cuts on my fingers often. Today, I got sliced by some broken glass. It’s a good thing that I have plenty of my friend, yarrow, growing in my garden. Yarrow is astringent, meaning it causes body tissue to contract, meaning it can shrink blood vessels and stop bleeding. When I am bleeding, I like to chew a couple leaves of yarrow and spit them onto the cut. I usually hold the leaves there until the bleeding stops and then replace the yarrow with a cotton and tape bandage. Today, I remembered that I once read something about spiderwebs being used as bandages, so I decided to try it. There is no shortage of spiderwebs in my yard! There are all different kinds- big spirals, small funnels, messy ones in corners(look out these could be black widows!) I found out that the biggest spiders make the strongest, thickest strands of web. And, the net like funnel webs are good for adding cotton-like bulk to the bandage.

Here is a picture of my yarrow and spiderweb bandage next to the yarrow leaves and flowers. As I type this, 10 hours later, the bandage is still on!

Thanks, yarrow! Thanks, spiders!


Warren Brush: Local & Global Permaculture, October 5

 In partnership with Transition Laguna Beach, SEEDS and the Anneliese School, Earthroots is honored to welcome international permaculture teacher Warren Brush to Laguna Beach!

Just returning from Jordan where he co-taught at the International Permaculture Convergence with Bill Molison, Geoff & Nadia Lawton, and Brad Lancaster, Warren comes with inspiring stories and practical skills we can use to create a resilient, regenerative community deeply connected with nature.

October 5th

Anneliese School Willowbrook Campus
20062 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach, CA

$15 per person
OR bring two paying friends and you get in for free! or you can split the difference so each of you pay $10.

Warren Brush is a certified Permaculture designer and teacher as well as a mentor and storyteller. He has worked for over 25 years inspiring people of all ages to discover, nurture and express their inherent gifts while living in a sustainable manner. He is co-founder of Quail Springs Learning Oasis & Permaculture Farm, Sustainable Vocations, Wilderness Youth Project, Trees for Children and his Permaculture design company, True Nature Design. He works extensively in Permaculture education and sustainable systems design in North America and in Africa as well as in other countries worldwide. He has devoted many years to mentoring youth to inspire and equip them to live in a sustainable manner with integrity and a hopeful outlook. His mentoring includes working with those who are former child soldiers, orphans, from troubled families and situations as well as those youth from other varied and privileged backgrounds.

Listen to a recording from Sustainable World Radio:

True Nature Designs

Quail Springs Permaculture Farm

International Permaculture Design Course

For inquiries, contact

Forest Kindergarten: Caroline’s Blog

Caroline Colesworthy co-instructs Earthroots Forest Kindergarten program with Jeannie Lee & Meg Hiesinger. Caroline’s Blog gives you a glimpse of the magical days of Forest Kindergarten.

Wednesday April, 25, 2012, Upper Newport Estuary Muth Interpretive Center
What was predicted to be a storm turned out to be a very warm and sunny day. Drats on our sweaters and warm pants. We saw so many fledgling natives trying to rehabitate the bluffs. Sticky Monkey Flower, Elder, Sage Brush, Bladderpod… Some people even saw a weasel! It was red and fast! We saw the exposed mudflats and talked about the tides. We saw a cool exhibit that showed the different beaks under the mud hunting for tasty snails, worms and clams. We found a pile of dead bees under a swarm and got to compare the sizes of the different bees in a community. We could see clearly their three body parts, head, abdomen, thorax, their big eyes, and could even see where the stinger is tucked inside the female’s bodies. Our characters learned that Earth’s wonders are all around, though we often don’t see them. We have to be paying attention. And at the end we met a Rosy Boa, and saw Gopher and King snakes. Their heads are not wider than their bodies- we know they’re not poisonous.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012, Casper’s Hot Springs, Cleveland National Forest

What a pristine and magical place! The creek was flowing with icy water and the springs were burning hot! What a gift to get to spend the day playing and exploring this secluded, usually off-limits, treasure. W is for water and our story friends figured out a What! way to water a banana tree without the hose. Then we found a scat with a dark brown, greasy quality and a “braided” appearance. One of our younger students supplied that descriptor. Was it weasel? I wonder…

Wednesday March 21, 2012, Upper Newport Bay

We started with the standard bunch of American coots, mallards and a lesser egret, and soon were greeted with the fish hawk right overhead: osprey with a head of white and streak of black. We went on our adventure walk, no frogs, but I caught a crawdad on a string with a piece of smoked salmon. 10 legs, oh my. Some saw a fearful pinching foe, a few recognized dinner. I let the crawdad keep the salmon. We had lunch early, all of us depleted from the bright hot sun. Then we headed towards the woodland for a story and pretend fishing. We watched a red tail hawk hover just over our heads as we made our way into the coolness of the forest. Our story cheap nba jerseys characters learned about the Vernal Equinox, a time of fertility, and greeted new life in the form of a new baby coming. Celebrate! Special Blessings for those spirits who are coming to our circle, even now. And before we closed we had a circle of mamas and kids demonstrating the forces of the sun and moon on the tides. Oh, I get it!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012, Treasure Island & Mermaid Beaches, Laguna Beach, CA
Our day started with a cool cloud cover and a gentle surf and closed with boisterous sunshine and big booming waves. Everyone left a little wetter than they’d intended to get, sandy, and contended (though many a little over-ready to nap). We are so grateful for our world-class tidepooling opportunities here in Laguna Beach, seeing carpets of sea urchins, about five sea stars, bigger than the biggest papa hands, tiny sculpin, sensitive anemone, skittery crabs, opaleye fish, and a small pod of dolphins making their way North. The children in our story learned about the delicate balance between sea urchin, kelp and sea otters. During quiet sit we all had a chance to observe pelagic birds (pelicans, terns, gulls) and their hunt for fish in the churning waters, diving like big rocks being thrown form the heavens and heaving up fish bigger than their beaks. Then we concluded with a planting of grass seeds for natural Equinox/ Easter baskets to celebrate the return of Spring and the fertility of the Earth. With this group of parents, one in postpartum absence and several of us nursing at any given time, that fertility is palpable and obvious. Give thanks!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012, San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary.

Only those native to Orange County would not have had to double check the date today. It was so warm the children were unable to keep their clothes on and the precious songs birds didn’t ever stop singing. We saw double crested cormorants, white pelicans, turkey vultures, a yellow-throated warbler, white crested sparrows, mallards, Canada geese, American coots, and unidentified hummingbirds. We felt the triangular shape of the tule that provides so much habitat in these wetlands. At quiet sit we caught a grasshopper and watched the water rippling at the edge floating bits of sticks and tule. In this week’s story we went with Anders to the beach at low tide with his Grandmother who saved a few sea stars, because every one matters. And at play we tested our speed by being bunnies darting down holes past wholesale jerseys hungry coyotes and vice versa.

Wednesday, February 1, Silverado Canyon

What a luscious Riley’s feast awaited us! The hillside going up to the orchard was carpeted with miner’s lettuce, wild romaine, cleavers, Shepard’s purse, and chickweed. So fresh and tender. We learned a few characteristics of each and promise to ask before tasting. Strange how delicious foods can grow right beside poison hemlock… “Q is for quail”, a covey of whom made a collection of mysterious cup shapes in the dirt for the curious children in our story. We drew Q’s with charcoal from the fire. Three hawks soared over us through lunch. In closing we made saur kraut with added wild mustard leaves for kick. Hooray for the new Forest Kindergarten term!

Monday January  23, O’Neill Regional Park

Wow, what a difference a lot of water makes! The morning was grey and wet wet wet. Although no water was flowing in the creek we went there to see and were rewarded with a long string of deer tracks.  Many of us found it difficult to get through the middle of the day because we were so wet and cold and uncomfortable. Most adults’ edges were pushed and most children cried at least a little. It got very hard. But it passed. We carried on joyfully through story, sit time, and a sumptuous potluck and everything seemed brighter on a full stomach. The kids in our story learned about Plantain and we all found a little in the grass. Once the mud got really thick the kids had a great time building, molding and splashing. A game of “Rabbit Hole” had lots of running and happy slipping. The joy of being cunning coyote inspired several of us to sing our closing songs in “coyote”. We all left on a happy note. Several people stayed until 3 (an hour plus after class ended – despite being cold and wet).  This proves how you can enjoy yourself in any weather once you get into what you are doing.

Monday, January 9, 2012, O’Neill Regional Park 

The tender young winter greens were flagging in the dry heat. To my regret, the tansy mustard is stunted and already gone to seed. I ate a few withered leaves. We spent play time in the creek bed where I assured the students that this time last year the spots we were standing in were above our heads with water. In “N is for Nettles”, the story gave us Grace, who got over her fear of stinging nettles to help her mother harvest tea for her allergies. We played stick drag and pursued our prey down the sandy path where mountain bike tracks tried to trick us, but we were victorious in our hunt and found Jeannie and Christian before long.
Monday December 5, 2011, O’Neill Regional Park, Trabuco Canyon, CA
The cottonwood leaves have abandoned their posts completely. Sycamore leaves, walnut, and liquid amber leaves wholesale nfl jerseys are in full color and partial falling. The differences in the types of trees are so stark on the landscape now. It was chilly and dry today. Everyone looked so cute all bundled up. The park had posted a fire alert, restricting fires due to fast moving winds and dry conditions, lest a wild fire get started. Great piles of sycamore leaves provided crunchy hiding places and jumping pits. Construction still prevailed though a bit quieter this week. Crows cawed and woodpeckers chased one another through bare branches. The park was littered with tracks, wheels thin and thick, deer, dogs, birds, and others. A four legged creature with shoes turned out to be sisters in matching shoes!
L is for Limpet, who can be seen in tide pools when the new Wild moon is in the sky with the sun- a moon we can’t see, but we know is there by the low low tide it creates. Grace learned that the beach is a wonderful place in the winter and that the humble limpet (the keyhole variety of which looks like a tiny volcano) is her favorite creature because it can be found at even moderate tides and is not so common as the barnacles and muscles. Lastly, we made Saur Kraut, an ancient and dlicious method of preserving the harvest for the cold winter months without the use of electricity.
Monday October 24, 2011, O’Neill Regional Park
Today found us enjoying cool weather and mostly overcast skies. The woodpeckers were not flying all over the skies or peck peck pecking like mad. The silence allowed the crickets’ song to predominate during quiet time. Today was a great day for finding things.  On the trail we found toad scats filled with earwig exoskeletons, coyote scats dripping pink and seedy from prickly pear fruits and regular brown ones furry and bony- one with squirrel fur, another with rabbit. A coyote gourd (like a miniature yellow pumpkin), a deer’s leg bone that the children readily identified after last week’s deer encounter. We found a dented stink beetle and an owl pellet holding an entire rat’s scull. And the tobacco tree’s hundreds of tiny seeds were an enchantment that some could not escape. One child even got personal with the poison oak and learned the cold water and soapy truth, hopefully to no lasting Kalahari: consequences.
G is for Grub- the Long-snouted Acorn Weevel’s grubs. She lays her eggs in the summer while the acorns are green. Once hatched, the larvae (grubs) eat the winters acorn and have 5 growth spurts (instars) before the mature acorn drops and the grubs make their way out the hole where they burrow into the soft earth and pupate for up to two years. Our story’s band of adventurous children learned not to bring the holey acorns home and not fault those who do- we all make oversights or lose focus now and again. But working together gives sweet results- especially when the reward is acorn pancakes with maple syrup. Oh yeah.

Gathering Acorns for Pancakes!

Monday October 17th, O’Neill Regional Park
Most of the sycamores are golden and preparing for a rest. Many of the children seemed to be on the same page. The woodpeckers and squirrels however are busy busy. Our wander led us into the forest and out again where the nopal grow. Their fruits are deep crimson and quite inviting. Cocheneal decorated our faces and I let that be consumption enough. Also the Eucalyptus bark is pealing pealing and quite appealing to young collectors.
F is for Finch. We look forward to the return of these bright Canadian characters to our winter yards.
We found a nightcreature out place- a Jerusalem Cricket-its strong rear legs actually for digging not jumping. Also known as Potato bug and Nino de la Tierra, my words on its chomping jaws allowed it to go completely unmollested. In quiet sitting time we all heard the 9 taps of woodpecker and another hiding game left us in giggles.

Monday, October 10, O’Neill Regional Park
Today was hot but not the productive growing heat of summer, the drying waiting heat of Fall. Many acorns ar ripe on the ground.
Today the children tracked deer during play time. We’ve found several scat piles. We don’t have to see the animals to know they’re here.
E is for Elderberry. In the story, Thalia and Grace learned that Elderberry trees  have bumpy stems, small jagged leaves and flowers & berries that grow in bunches like an umbrella. They harvested dried berries for grandpa to use when he made muffins.
In hide and seek, dried sycamore leaves provided the best hiding spots. I found a woodpecker’s head. Jeannie reminded us how strong their skulls have to be to withstand all that knocking. Its break was thick with long ridges showing its tough structure and the scull looked very thick.
I also found a stink beetle who’d lost one antenna and one leg. Its so gratifying to watch the kids pushing their limits, interpersonally, physically, with comforts and trying new things. What a gift!

Monday October 3rd, O’Neill Regional Park
Today was warm and sunny with a moody crisp breeze blowing from the north west, promising rain. We hit the trail, finding prickly cucumber which is like ad loofah inside. We were our largest group yet which made for many kid prints when the kids went barefoot to practice tracking each other on the sandy path.

“In her dream she saw the bears dancing around the blazing fire and feasting on the salmon and honey the elders had offered. She danced and cheap mlb jerseys played and cheap mlb jerseys rolled around with the furry bears. As they danced Audra could hear and feel the earth’s heart beat, as strong as her own mother’s when she was in her womb.”

D is for Dance. We left our big D in the creek bed. Today we practiced our animal forms- weighty bear, quick squirrel, dangerous rattlesnake, and hopping raven.

Stalking the Drum & “C” is for Coyote
Photos by Sarah Teo

Monday September 26, 2011, O’Neill Regional Park
It was obvious today that Equinox is behind us. The birds had quieted, the crickets had taken over, and the squirrels were busy with acorns and territory disputes. The children seemed especially hungry and tired… Perhaps the change weighs heavier on humans than we adults let on. The cooler temperatures and incidents like this morning’s drizzles have afforded the fungi to spore. We found minuscule caps in white, yellow and gray. In the creek bed we found that the broken brick pieces make great rock crayons and, finely ground and mixed with spit, decent face paint. Today’s story “C is for Coyote” focused on sycamores, coyotes, and including people in our play. Here is an excerpt:

         ” They walk up to the first tree, Thalia feeling the rough flaky bark. They searched its limbs- no humming bird
They walked to the next tree and Thalia noticed the dry sweet smell it gave off- but no humming bird feeder.
They walked to the third tree, Anders picking up a string of sycamore seed pom-poms and handing it to his
sister. They checked for a humming bird feeder but found nothing…

Monday September 19, O’Neill Regional Park
Today was as warm as was pleasant without a moment of discomfort. The creek bed was dry as a bone but we made our own creek and jumped it like agile deer. The breeze was loud with the activity of woodpeckers, robins, crows and ravens. Red-shouldered Hawk called so frequently that everyone got a chance to know her better. Owl must have been about- we found a large rat scull in a pellet near our quiet sitting spots. All those tiny teeth! It was hard to get to lunch today with all the fat brown acorns strewn about and a good hunger on. They seemed to be shouting, “Gather me! Leach me! I’m delicious!” I checked in with others and I was not the only one who heard this.Today’s story was “B is for Bees” and we saw some holes in sycamores like the kind that housed the hive in our story. We also pretended to get stung by bees and make quick poultices with plantain (Plantago Minorus). We closed with Blindfolded Drumbeat. The children proved themselves to be able trackers in the making. I could not escape their eager ears. I noticed a few children pushing the limits of their comfort zones today.I am so blessed to be participating in their growth.


Wednesday, May 9, 2012, Reilly Wilderness Park, Coto de Caza, CA
What a splendid day! The caterpillars were falling from the canopy and crawling all around. The squirrels were rustling in the bushes and the fledglings were out testing the currents. On our hike we saw a group of four White-Tailed Kites and another group of four Red-Shouldered Hawks. What a treat. The children pretended that they were the young birds, running in the breeze. Our story characters realized that we are all one. We are one with those who came before us and with those yet to be born and all those people and creatures we do not even know of. One. Then we found a trickle in the stream and some very serious mud spots. Oh what a glorious day!

Stories from the Kalahari: Jodi’s Blog Part 1

Harvesting thirst quenching juices from roots in the Kalahari. Photo by Nicole Apelian

Permaculture Podcast Interview

Thanks to the support of the Earthroots  community, I was one of 7 participants who traveled to the Kalahari Desert of Botswana this Spring on a cultural exchange and tracking trip led by Jon Young & Nicole Apelian. Although Jon & Nicole organized the trip and are internationally recognized trackers & mentors, our main guides in the Kalahari were, of course, the Bushmen. The Naro Bushmen we learned from have lived in in the Kalahari Desert all of their lives. They greeted us barefoot, wearing simple animals skins with smiles and presence. Their relatives and ancestors have lived there for over 20,000 years, gathering, hunting and living in community with what is growing naturally in their area. The depth of connection that the Bushmen have to everything they come into contact with in their desert home is indescribable and makes me long for the same.

Coming to a water hole, we found and harvested mild onion-like plants growing in the water. Men, women, children & elders working together offered a new perspective on education and the importance of community.

Every moment with the Bushmen was a gift, teaching me what it is to thrive in a place where your needs can be found within walking distance, and community is truly there to support each other for the well being of the whole. They are aware of every bird sound, every animal track in the sand, every edible, medicinal, poisonous plant and venemous snake we walked past. They encourage each other to share what they know and take turns talking. They teach their children how to live with the resources around them, by living as an example. They honor the elders and care for the earth.

We walked through head-high brush & trees, knee high grasses & endless sand. Many plants had thorns that would hook our sleeves as we walked by. The sand was soft on bare feet and the weather was much like springtime in Southern California. Warm days, cool nights, sometimes rain. As we walked through the desert, we would harvest roots, seeds & nuts.

Walking through the Kalahari

We did not follow trails or signposts of where to go. We followed paths between the thick brush created by Kudu, Gemsbok, Springbok and Wildebeests. Game trails made accessible pathways for us to follow. When the time was right, and we found a clearing in the shade of larger bushes and trees, we would sit down and get ready to eat. We were not carrying pots or matches. Instead, Xigao would take out the hand drill he carried in his leather pouch and take turns with Guma rubbing the spindle on the fire board to create a coal to start the fire.


Starting a hand drill fire. Photo by Nicole Apelian

Ganuma is an elder. He lost many teeth and has a hard time chewing food. His body is thin and he has big scars healed long ago that tell stories of when he was speared by a Gembsok on a hunt, his healing journey and the strength to survive. He holds the fire board with his fingers while the stronger men roll their palms & fingers with force on the round wood to build heat with friction and make a coal to start the fire.

Xigao is on the left, Ganuma is on the right. We found a variety of food in a seemingly sparse landscape. Pictured here: melon, cucumber, nuts, seeds, beetles. Photo by Nicole Apelian

While the men started the fire, the women gathered sticks from the bushes nearby for the fire and grass to make serving plates all while tending to the children. These “plates” are nothing more than bundles of long dry grass which protect the cooked food from the sand. Imagine every day eating food with sand. It would wear down your teeth pretty quickly. The grass “plates” were really helpful.  As the fire & cooking got going, we would gather around, share stories with the help of our translator, Neeltjie Bower, and share food with our new friends. Some of the foods shown in this photo were roasted directly on the coals:  Jewel Beetles (crunchy, delicious & salty), Coffee Beans (not at all like coffee that we know, but more of a dense sunflower seed texture), Gemsbok meat in strips & round nuts that looked like macadamia nuts. The roasted beetles were passed around in a turtle shell bowl. Everything has a purpose. We ate some of the foods fresh & uncooked, including melon (yellow on the inside and less sweet than what we are use to with watermelon) and spiky cucumber (tasted just like a cucumber from home, once you got the spikes off). I enjoyed all of it, especially the Gemsbok meat & nuts. I felt adventurous eating the beetle and surprised myself when I liked it! During the meal, topics of conversation ranged from what we were eating to how they store & carry water, how they hunt, what life cycle rituals are practiced, stories of healing injuries, educating the children & how they have experienced modern influences to their culture. There was never a dull moment.

Walking through the Kalahari

This was a life-changing experience and there are many stories to tell. I will be sharing more photos & stories on this blog throughout the year and will be presenting on my travels Fall 2011. Check back for updates.

Thank you,
Jodi Levine

Stories from the Kalahari: Part 2

Tracking and Wilderness Awareness at Riley’s Wilderness Park

The day bode well. It was gloriously sunny after days of rain and Riley’s Wilderness Park was covered in green green grasses. The kids were delighted to find patches of sourgrass to nibble all along the trail. They were blooming delicate yellow flowers on tall stalks.

The theme for the day was Tracking and Wilderness Awareness and as we started hiking we came upon some very Recipes obvious animal evidence, which any of celna the homeschooling kids will tell you is properly called SCAT. This stuff was big, with pointy ends, and tufts wholesale NFL jerseys of fur sticking out. After some guide book checking, we generally agreed that it was coyote scat.


I was surprised to discover that there was a student who did not know that deer were hoofed animals that make very different tracks from animals in the cat, dog, or rodent family. I was gratified to see how quickly and readily he absorbed all the new information that day. In fact, he turned out to be one of the day’s La most avid trackers.

The highlight of the day, though, was the “game” we played to heighten sensory awareness; we got cheap NBA jerseys into pairs and led our m?i blindfolded partners up the hill. The students loved this game so much that variations were played for the rest of cheap jerseys the day – one student even hiked all the way from lunch back to the parking lot…blindfolded. Intrepid and trusting hiker!

This post was contributed by Jeannie Lee who also writes at