Nature Notes: Thoughts from the TreeSong Community

Featuring Lisa Marie Peloquin, Ph.D.


Deciding what’s for dinner is not an easy process-especially when the average U.S. American supermarket presents us with over 47,000 different products (FMI 2014).  While mass media marketing attempts to persuade us that grocery shopping is an expression of cherished cultural values like “freedom” and “individuality,” over-abundance of choice actually complicates decision-making.  Social scientists, consumer advocacy groups and a quick trip to Scandinavia clearly indicate that you are not alone, mesmerized and waffling over that towering wall of curly green kale, collards and chard in the grocery store.  In these Nature Notes, I reflect as a cultural sociologist and culinary nutrition expert on ways to help you minimize the overwhelming and maximize a loving connection to the natural world as you hunt and gather your nourishment.

When encountering life’s challenges, sometimes to “Just say ‘No’” accomplishes a simple, desired purpose.  Observe the persuasive effects of chanting this esoteric mantra of  “No” by any vocal two-year old.  Being a defiant toddler with a visceral awareness of preferences and limits is undoubtedly a positive stage in human development-ask WebMD.  Philosophers have examined a suspiciously similar practice by which toddlers in adult bodies, a.k.a. “grown-ups,” likewise deploy the “No! No! No!” to help us clarify an increasingly complex and differentiated world.

Lisa’s Nature Notes continue here.


On October 15th, Lisa is offering her Fall culinary nutrition workshop,Healing with the Autumn Harvest: Pumpkin Love in the Global Kitchen‘ which promises to be both richly informative as well as delicious!  Click here for details.

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Lisa Peloquin, Ph.D. and Culinary Nutrition Expert

Lisa Marie lives among the beautiful plants and animals of the Columbia River Gorge. A cultural sociologist and Culinary Nutrition Expert, Lisa’s work helps others to create healing foods that nurture life within our bodies, relationships, and environment. When not in the kitchen or the forest, you can find Lisa posting her creations on:
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TreeSong’s Fall Equinox Celebration


A beautiful afternoon was spent on September 18th as folks gathered for art, ceremony, sweet community connection and good food.  All to celebrate the arrival of Fall.  Much gratitude to all who attended.  A special dose of thanks to Anna Wiancko-Chasman, Marlene Cowan and Lisa Peloquin for supporting the creation of a most wonderful gathering!

Happy Autumn!




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Nature Notes: Thoughts from the TreeSong Community

Featuring Laura Whittemore

I watch birds because birds are always doing something worth watching. Observing and listening to birds is an opportunity to spend time outside and increase my awareness of creatures living around me, not only in my own backyard but in countless wild areas of the Pacific Northwest and beyond.

Each season offers something unique and wondrous for bird watchers. Late Summer is filled with young birds recently out of the nest—fledglings from eagles to chickadees have a distinct teenagery look: a little scruffy and a bit bewildered. By Fall, neotropical migrants like swallows, hummingbirds, swifts, and warblers, who raised their young here, have departed North America and flown to Central or South America for the nonbreeding season. In November and December, waterfowl arrive from northern latitudes to winter on the open water of our bays and lakes, and even the ocean. And just when we think winter will never end, those warblers, swallows, hummingbirds, and more arrive back to our skies and woodlands to raise another brood and keep our insect populations in check. Birds make these migrations year after year, flying hundreds or thousands of miles under their own power, guided by stars and instinct.I made my own far less spectacular migration this week when I moved into a new home just two miles from the old one. I’m interested in meeting my new human neighbors, but more intriguing are the voices coming from the small woods behind the house. I hear Western Tanagers saying a farewell pid-er-ick before starting their southbound migration; Cedar Waxwings are flocking by the dozens as they search for trees and shrubs laden with tasty berries; Barn Swallows zip over the local school’s playing field, filling up on bugs to fuel their long migration; and every day I’ve heard a White-breasted Nuthatch calling, so different from the Red-breasted I’m used to. What transitions will we observe over the next twelve months? Will we have the Golden-crowned Sparrows and Varied Thrushes that spend their winters at lower elevation? Will a young Cooper’s Hawk stake out our bird feeders as it learns to efficiently catch songbirds? Will an owl start hooting and courting a mate this winter? Which warblers will wander through our woods next spring?

In the spirit of sharing my passion for birds and their wondrous and interesting lives, I’m offering Masters of the Sky:  Birds of Prey in the Pacific Northwest at TreeSong on September 10th, where you’ll learn the differences between the raptors found here in winter, and where to go to find them. On a separate day (October 8th), we’ll take a trip up to the Bonney Butte HawkWatch site to watch Fall raptor migration in action. On May 21 and 22 of 2017, join me at TreeSong for an overnight birds and birdsong weekend, where we’ll immerse ourselves in the sights and sounds of Spring!
Laura Whittemore
Laura Whittemore
Since 2000, Laura has been teaching classes for the Audubon Society in Portland. Her “Beginning Birding” and “Birding by Ear” classes open the door to our learning about the fascinating and interesting lives of our winged neighbors. Her goal as a teacher is to help students raise their awareness of the natural world. Laura finds that taking just five minutes to slow down and watch birds creates a meaningful and inspiring connection with the beauty all around us.

To find out more about Laura’s upcoming class, click here.

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Nature Notes: Thoughts from the TreeSong Community

Featuring Michelle Fox

The Importance of Nature Connection for Kids


Cultivating a child’s relationship with nature engenders health and wholeness.  Today’s children  spend considerably less time outside and even less in natural settings. The effects are notable.  TreeSong’s mission statement emphasizes the importance of connecting children to self, community and nature. There has been a multitude of studies that document how spending time in nature impacts virtually all facets of a child’s existence, including the physical, mental, emotional, intellectual and spiritual.  These studies categorically support that exposure to and interaction with the natural world are imperative to well-being, creative and problem-solving capacities, and emotional and intellectual development.

Fostering love for the natural world not only benefits the individual child, but also has a far-reaching and important impact on our world. Children who form a relationship with nature are more likely to grow up to be adults who are dedicated stewards of our precious earth. We care for what we know, understand and love. Our planet needs as many conscious, caring individuals as possible to nurture, restore and passionately act on her behalf.

We at TreeSong deeply believe in providing a place, in this amazing Northwest riverside forest, for children to play, learn, explore, connect and nourish all aspects of themselves. We believe these embodied experiences are what children need on a fundamental level, and it’s what the world needs:  future generations that protect and care for the earth.

Check out the following links for excellent resources and research articles from the children in nature movement:

Children & Nature Network
Richard Louv


Michelle Fox offers a variety of nature connection programs for children of all ages.  Click here to take a look!

michelle21Michelle Fox
Founder and Executive Director of TreeSong,
Educator and Mother

Michelle fulfills a 15 year dream of supporting the wholeness of children (and families) through nature-based exploration and learning. She’s been a teacher of young children for almost 30 years, teaching art, Spanish, preschool, Maiden Spirit (program for 9-13 year old girls) and Children’s Yoga.

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Our August newsletter is now available

Simply click on the following link:

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TreeSong exists and continues with the support from you all, its generous community. Our current thank yous:

The first goes out to IQ Credit Union for their generous donation from their IQ for Kids foundation, which supports community causes that help improve the lives of children.

The second thank you goes out to Diane Routt and Jane Doudney for their donation of a laptop (which we sorely needed!).

We certainly appreciate the loving support!  THANK YOU!!!


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Fairy Camp!

The four days of Fairy Camp last week  were over-the-top sweet. So many precious moments learning about the natural world, creating, exploring, connecting…. The joy was constant and so very beautiful.

To view more photos from Fairy Camp, click here.

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Nature Notes: Thoughts from the TreeSong Community

Featuring Monica Vilhauer, Ph.D.


In our culture there is a long-standing pressure to see nature – and all the living beings, landscapes, and formations that make up nature – as a “thing” to examine and predict, an “object” to know, but which has no intelligence nor knowing capability of its own. It is often depicted as a resource for us to use and use up according to our own needs and desires, without any sense that it might have its own intrinsic value, its own needs, its own interests. It has even been regarded as a vast plane of “matter” whose parts interact like a great machine that we can take apart, manipulate, and dominate without causing it any pain or harm. This lens through which we have long approached nature is, no doubt, at the heart of our tendency to abuse it, neglect it, or simply remain apathetic toward it.


What might it mean to re-think what nature is? What new lens for seeing nature might we cultivate? What new relationships might we forge with nature and how? Might we learn something about how to live by watching the ways plants, animals, and different eco-systems “do” the process of living? Might there be a way to listen to what nature has to tell us? Might it be possible to forge a partnership or friendship with nature in which we learn what other living beings’ interests are and care for them, even if they are different from our own?


These philosophical questions about nature, I’ve come to believe, cannot be answered in a classroom or with a string of power-point presentations at a conference. We must approach these questions by engaging the natural world, by spending time with, observing, and being “present” with the living beings that we have become so good at ignoring or separating ourselves from. This, to me, is the great value of a place like TreeSong. It is a way in – the doorstep into a place and an experience that has become foreign to us, but to which our own minds and bodies remain intimately connected somewhere deep in the memory and flesh of our species. You know it as soon as you arrive. This is a place for you to rediscover and understand anew what life in its broad sense is all about, while also rediscovering and understanding yourself as a natural being.


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Monica is offering a retreat on July 23-24, Philosophy of Nature: A 25-Hour Retreat for Men and Women, as well as a wonderful mosaic workshop, Nature Inspired Mosaics, on August 6th and 13th. Learn more about these offerings by clicking on the class name.


Monica Vilhauer, Ph.D.

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Philosophy Professor, Artist and Lover of Nature

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Nature Notes: Thoughts from the TreeSong Community

Featuring Linda Jo Hunter


 Why Learn to Track?

The connection to nature has long been known to be a key ingredient to human health. High exposure to electronic realities makes this connection even more important. Tracking, the practice of visually observing the impressions on the earth made by animals and humans, is a lifelong learning project that yields riches of understanding, wonder, beauty and peace to the individual who pursues it. It is also a way to experience the outdoors with a great deal more safety and security than innocently wandering without a clue.

Isn’t Tracking Animals a Kids’ Activity?

Children love it when an adult points out raccoon tracks. They love to put their fingers in the exact spot where a raccoon stepped. However, once they stand up and look away, the image disappears for them and is usually replaced by all the other wonders around them. Learning to track animals takes adult skills of mental effort and discipline. The adult who has been studying tracking can be a great influence and mentor to children on hikes and during kids activities. In the process of learning to see animal sign, an adult learns a whole lot about natural history, habitat systems and the character and personalities of animals. This can be passed on to children indirectly, and perhaps as they grow and remember they will be interested in putting in the time and effort to learn in depth observation and story deduction based on visual sign.


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Linda is offering a series of tracking classes this Spring, Summer and Fall through TreeSong. These classes will be held offsite and are a rare and wonderful opportunity to learn about the natural world through the eyes of a master naturalist and tracker.
Click here to find out more.

Linda Jo Hunter
Artist, Tracker and Author of:
Lonesome for Bears, A Woman’s Journey in the Tracks of the Wilderness
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Summer Solstice Celebration & TreeSong’s 3rd Birthday!


 sign unveiled

Saturday, June 18, 4-7pm

Join us as we gather together to celebrate the changing of the season and TreeSong’s birthday with ceremony, community connection and art!

Please bring a potluck dish to share.

Hope you can join us!

Please RSVP, 360-837-8733, or email,

Suggested donation:  $5/person, $15/family

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