Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Herbal Medicine Making Class

The Herbal Medicine Making class just finished on Sunday and it was a resounding success. This is one of my favorite classes to teach and is one of the highlights of the year. I love transforming all of the plant material that we harvest each summer into high quality herbal medicines. As a group we managed to make 3 lip balms, 4 healing salves and roughly 10 different tinctures! It is a very 'hands-on' experience and we go through each step of the process so that participants can go home with the knowledge and experience to do this on thier own. It feels good to share this information and plant wisdom with people and this years group of students was eager to learn and showed great passion and enthusiasm for learning about herbal medicine. I thank everyone who came to the class and look forward to next year when we will do it all over again.

In Light


P.S. I will be uploading photos to our Earth Tracks Flickr account http://www.flickr.com/photos/earthtracks/ in the next couple of days. You can also find more information about this class and others on our website at http://www.earthtracks.ca/

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Wildlife Tracking Workshop this Weekend

Title: Tracking – Another Tool for the Naturalist – Identifying & Interpreting Animal Tracks

Date: November 27, 2010 Time: 10 : 00 AM - 5 : 00 PM

Location: rare Administration Centre, 1679 Blair Road City: Cambridge ...

Contact Info Contact Name: Brenda Pearce Email: blpearce@raresites.org

Phone: 519-650-9336 ext.125

Join Alexis Burnett, a Naturalist, Tracker, Wilderness Skills Practitioner and Canoe Guide and Jason Bracey, a local teacher and rare volunteer for this combination event of a presentation and a hike. Alexis will share his knowledge and passion in teaching you how to identify and track animals as well as interpreting the story that the tracks tell you about the behaviour of the animal. After the talk, Jason will lead the group on a hike and Alexis will help participants put their new skills to use. It is recommended that you dress appropriately for the weather and bring the following items: proper footwear for hiking over uneven terrain, water bottle, lunch, notebook, pen, small measuring tape or ruler and a camera.

NOTE: This event is limited to a maximum of 20 participants.

COST: $25.00 (rare Event Discount Card invalid for this event)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Winter Wildlife Tracking Class

I am super excited to share with you the dates for this years Winter Wildlife Tracking Class -- February 9-13th. I have added another day to this experience and am looking forward to spending more time in the field tracking and learning from the animals that we follow. Come and joing us as we track and trail such animals as the river otter, marten, eastern wolf, flying squirrel, fisher, deer and moose. Our days will be spent tracking in the field each day followed by follow up research and further study at night. This is a great opportunity to 'push/grow' your tracking skills and learn more about the animals that live in the forests of central Ontario. The location for this class will be announced soon, please contact us with any questions or to register for this class. earthtracks@gmail.com www.earthtracks.ca

Friday, November 5, 2010

Encounters with a Fisher

I've been spending a lot of time sitting alone in the woods this fall. Watching and observing wildlife, experiencing nature through the change of the seasons and pondering the next steps for Earth Tracks. It has felt really good to spend this much-needed time. To sit quietly, refocus and saturate myself in the present moment while also looking ahead to the future. It reminds me of all the synchronicities in my life that have brought me to this place where I am at today. I am truly grateful for all of these things.

After roughly 4 hours spent sitting since before dawn, something caught my eye to the north of me on the edge of the swamp. The ducks had been 'alarming' for a little while and I wondered what had been causing this? Then came the brown mustelid (with grey highlights on the face and shoulders) bounding towards me. It was the elusive Fisher! I had never seen one of these animals in Grey county before, but have heard that they have been expanding their range south in previous years from the Bruce peninsula. At about 75 feet he turned to the west and began to disappear into a grove eastern hemlock. At this point I began making an 'injured' rabbit call and he instantly stopped and turned in my direction, his interest piqued. He then started to walk and take slow bounds towards the cause of this enticing sound, stopping frequently to look and listen to what may have been a potential meal. I was able to 'draw' him in to within 15 or so feet of me and have a good look at this beautiful animal. By his large size I could tell that he was a male as all members of the weasel family are sexually dimorphic. Meaning one gender is quite larger than the other. In the case of the mustelides, the males are always bigger than the females.
He could not see me through the naturally constructed ground blind that I had built. After about 30 seconds, he turned and headed towards the east -- deeper into the forest. As he passed an elder hemlock tree he slowed down slightly to smell the porcupine scat that was lying near its base. I wondered if he knew that the porcupine was up in that very tree at the time?
I was extremely thankful for this amazing encounter with Martes pennanti and hope that our trails will cross again.

Spending time alone in nature nourishes my entire being and these experiences help to strengthen my connection to the natural world. The lessons continue to unfold and open up a world to me that is full of wonder, joy and thankfulness to be alive.
In Light
*“Trail Cam Pic by Dan Gardoqui of White Pine Programs – with whom I run our annual Winter Wildlife Tracking trip with in Algonquin Park.”

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Many New Things Happening

Well, the fall time has set in here in Ontario and we are super busy here at Earth Tracks wrapping up our busy season, putting things to bed and envisioning our future. There are many new things in the works for 2010 including a new tracking club in Grey county, long-term Naturalist/Tracking and Awareness study program, new canoe trips on the Magnetewan River and new classes and workshops. I (Alexis) am really excited to have 100% of my time to dedicate to Earth Tracks and continue to nurture and grow this Vision that has been unfolding for over a decade now. Look for new updates and information on all the new things we have planned to follow shortly. By December we are hoping to publish our newsletter in its new format and completely have the website re-vamped and updated for the new year. Stay tuned and keep tracking.

In Light


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Spring - A time of new beginnings

Here at Earth Tracks as well as in most parts of Ontario we have been enjoying some beautiful spring weather that feels a little more like summer. It's not only the human family that is feeling this time of new life, but the forest is coming alive. Many of our spring wildflowers and native trees have already flowered and are beginning to form seeds for the next generation. In this short post I'd like to describe a little about the animals and birds who have been tending to thier new borns and I had the priviledge to observe over the course of the last couple of days.

I watched as the starlings and robins flew from thier nests in South River at Matt's house and worked feverishly to keep the nest clean of droppings and 'fresh' for thier young brood. As I travlelled home I stopped to watch two families of Canada Geese as the young goslings swim in the safe 'eddies' that thier parents created as they lead them down the river. On the road to the Edge there have been many deer and moose including a cow moose and twins and a lot of deer including a couple of fawns. The fox kits are up and moving with thier mothers as the vixen that I saw tried catiously to get her young from one side of the road to the other. The beavers have been working hard adding wood and mud to thier dams in anticipation of the low water levels to come this summer. On our lake there have been many species of ducks in thier courting pairs and now most females are sitting on nests. This year I've been able to watch wood, black, mallard, buffleheads and mergansers swimming in Round lake. As I paddle each day I love to keep an eye on these small family groups and have noticed that the herring gull that has been nesting on the rocks in front of my place has just hatched her young. The other day was thier first venture into the water and the mom and dad are quick to 'rush' them into the water at the first sign of danger. They were quite used to me paddling by twice a day up until the young have arrived. Now we are starting all over again in our relationship and establishing new boundaries and acceptance of one and other. The loons are calling each night from different corners of the lake and the hummingbirds have returned to the island on which I live as well. The crows and ravens wake me each morning as the sun rises and often I get to hear the shrill call of the merlin or the sharp-shinned hawk as they hunt through the tall white pines.

As the days become longer we all go through transitions as we let go of the things from the past while embracing the present moment. Last night as I went to sleep listening to 4 different species of frogs singing around the lake it made me feel alive and ready to move into this next season with a 're-newed' sense of Vision and Purpose. I wish the same to all of you and hope that you can come and visit us soon.

Alexis Burnett

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Thursday, February 4, 2010

In the Stillness of the North Moon

As the heart of winter beats with each snowflake that falls from the sky I cannot help but feel the inner stillness and peace that this season brings. A time to slow down and search within ourselves for those things that truly make our heart sing. What is it in our lives that fuel that sacred fire that burns deep at our core? Are we tending and feeding that fire with ‘wood’ that is nourishing and makes the flame grow brighter and stronger? In this time of introspection we can contemplate the past year while getting ready for the new beginnings that lie ahead. I like to envision myself as a seed lying dormant beneath the protection of the frozen snow. Waiting for the just the right time to sprout and grow towards the sun as the seasons turn. Inside of these seeds is the knowledge and wisdom of countless generations that have come before. We too hold this vastness of ancient knowledge within each of us. It is waiting in dormancy for just the right time to sprout and grow as long as we provide the right environment and conditions for that seed to flourish.

As I ski across the frozen lake under the glistening stars away from the Edge I am overwhelmed by the feeling of gratitude and thankfulness. Gratitude for all those that have come before and so very thankful to be alive and healthy inside this moment. The ice groans and echoes under my feet as I glide across the frozen water that has ‘cradled’ our canoes so many times. My mind flashes to the countless trips that have come and gone from this place into the beautiful landscapes of Algonquin Park. I think ahead to the many adventures that will come this year and the many new faces that will forever be etched in my mind and heart. An owl calls from the distance and brings me back into this special moment in the middle of this frozen landscape. At this time of year I find myself dreaming ahead to the coming paddling season as we prepare and plan for each of our unique trips. Who will come with us, what will we see and experience and how will our lives change from our interaction with the natural world? Each time I venture into the wilderness I learn a little more not only about the natural world, but also about myself and how I can affect a positive change in this world we live in. It is said that in the purity of the wilderness we will find all that we search for. Right now, in the solitude and serenity of this moment, my heart beats in unison with that of the Earth. My fire burns bright as a smile curls across my face and the words ‘Thank You’ flow from my whole being.

In Light

Alexis Burnett