To do the Mud Dance you wriggle to the left and wriggle to the right. But instead of moving smoothly across the dance floor, you slowly extricate yourself from the mud holding your feet hostage. Wiggling, it turns out, is much more effective than panicking and yanking or so says Karen Parker, our guide for the Water Wonders Walk at Camp Polk Meadow Preserve.
Karen gave this sage advice to a gaggle of kids ranging from age 2.5-8, before sending them off into a slightly muddy side channel of Whychus Creek. Armed with nets large and small, their goal was to find water bugs and other critters and bring them back to Karen for a sharing circle. The kids headed towards the water--some jumping in gleefully, others gently testing the waters with one toe. (My Will was a tentative one who instead sent Mommy knee high into the water!)
Mud turned out not to be plentiful, but the bugs were. Calls began to ring out from the kids along the waters edge "I found a long, slimy one!" "This is that wriggly one!" Occasionally, we'd hear "We found a beetle!" "Dragonfly larvae!" I don't think I've ever seen kids so excited about bug hunting! In fact, it took some cajoling for Karen to call the group back in from their eager hunting so we could actually look at the critters and see what we found.Once we settled into a circle, we learned about diving beetles that keep air bubbles under their arms and use them to breathe under water. We used magnifying boxes to check out dragonfly nymph that looked enough like an adult that you could just imagine them turning into a beautiful, shimmery flying creature. Karen showed pictures of the adult version of some of the critters and told stories to help us relate to them better. Mostly we just enjoyed learning about the entire world of critters that live in the little ponds or backwaters of our local creeks. The Mud Dance wasn't needed, but I think we all left thinking water was indeed wondrous!