Monday, June 2, 2014

Flint Ridge

Last week we were invited to join the tiny Waldorf school in town on their last field trip of the year. Most of the students are good friends of ours, so we folded in comfortably for the long drive and activities.  Our first stop was The Great Circle earthwork.  Today it looks like a berm surrounding a huge tree-dotted meadow, with a small hill in its center and a water ditch lining the inside of the berm. Two thousand years ago it was a spiritual and possibly economic center for people of the area. The entrance to the circle is in the east, and having an overview (in the form of a map) of the geometry of this and surrounding mounds or earthworks, thinking about how it all was constructed without modern machinery, measuring tools, compasses or an aerial is an astounding feat.

I wish mounds were more interesting to the kids! I love to imagine how life was so long ago (and found myself comparing what we were seeing to the remnants of life in Israel from the same time period), but to them it looks like these inviting hills that we aren't supposed to walk on.  It's abstract and empty, and we decided not to spend a lot of time there this visit.

(I love this picture below.  It captures an aspect of this homeschooling life that I really value.  See Ani? She is walking with her dear friend Noah, and her dear friend Olivia (in the pink hat) and her beloved Mama friend, M, but the one she wants to be touching is little Isaiah, and she is cupping his foot in her hand, where it remained for most of the walk.)

The rest of the day was spent at nearby Flint Ridge, where there is a natural flint deposit 3 miles wide.  Our guide, Bill (who I believe is the volunteer caretaker, along with his wife, of the museum and grounds) was knowledgeable and happy to learn a few things from our group!  We began with a walk around the grounds, viewing the flint pits, areas where flint was excavated thousands of years ago by the Native Americans living here.  They have now filled in with water for most of the  year, and are the breeding grounds for salamanders.

this is a Green Frog, not a salamander, but isn't he cute?
also not a salamander, but come on...

Bill did a nice job of pulling some things together:  Flint Ridge is located in Licking County, named for the largest deposits of salt in the state.  Salt licks bring deer, flint is used to make arrowheads for the arrows used to hunt the deer, flint is used to make the scraping tools and knives used in butchering the deer and working its hide, and flint is used to start the fire that cooks the deer.  Flint was a big deal of a natural resource, and it makes sense that an impressive center like the Circle Earthworks would be located near to the source of the flint.  

Next up was trying our hand at flintknapping! That is what you call the process of chipping a piece of flint into a tool like an arrowhead.  "Knap" is an old word meaning "nibble", and it describes well the little nibbles taken out of the edges of the pieces.

The day ended with some throws of the atlatl, a device used for throwing long arrows in a hunt.  I love the atlatl and was so pleased to be the only visitor along who actually hit the (very fake) deer.  A little bit proud (and soooo lucky) I was.  But this was for the kids, right? Yes, they had a good time too...

they look like they're mourning...they're just collecting arrows!

This field trip was right up Ani's alley: rocks, outside, safety goggles...Eliza's favorite parts I'm pretty certain were having picnic lunch with friends and nibbling chocolate on the way home - and hey, she looks pretty happy throwing with the atlatl too, doesn't she?  Different kids, different days - and I'm so glad we went.  


Tokarz said...

looks like a fun trip to me!!

alissa said...

I love mounds. They always feel peaceful. And I've always wanted to try an atlatl. Good for you for hitting the target!