I started making wooden/felted Waldorf dolls using a wooden base for each doll, a felt “outfit” and needle felted head covering and tail (if applicable). Forest friends seemed like a good place to start since the forest is a familiar place to many of us and there are so many characters that live in the forest. As a little girl, I lived in a rural area of Indiana; my woodland adventures took place on my grandfather’s farm. As I created these dolls, I imagined all of the characters that fit into the forest group because I like to make groups of things.
My grandfather’s name was Forest and he adored nature. He delighted in sharing magical places with us and showing us the little things that make nature wonderful. My parents, siblings and myself boarded a hay wagon, pulled by a tractor driven by my grandfather; he navigated the forest, pointing out interesting sites like the old log cabin where he was born. I was amazed at the way he found his way through the trees, without a path or road, he knew his way through these forests from growing up in them. We stopped at a slate bed creek, deep in the woods; my grandfather jumped off the tractor and waded into the creek. My brother, sister and I followed him into the water.
My grandfather fished out several tiny, brown lizards, he called mud puppies. Being a tom-boy, I loved all the “pets” that he brought to us; I was the proud “parent” of a menagerie of animals and reptiles . I put the mud puppies in a plastic cup and carried them home to my aquarium. Turtles were another favorite gift from my grandfather, my turtles lived in a big sandbox in our yard. On this particular woodsy outing, he continued to search in the creek.
My grandfather pulled several pieces of what looked like rectangular rocks out of the creek, he handed my brother, sister and I each a piece. These rocks were pieces of petrified wood, pieces of wood that had been in the water for so long they had turned to stone. We all got back on the wagon and my grandfather continued his nature tour.
Chugging through the woods on our hay wagon and tractor, my grandfather pointed out a huge hornet’s nests in the tree branches above and drove safely around them. We stopped a few times and turned off the noisy tractor to observe the wildlife that wondered by during which time my mother worried that we would get poison ivy standing in the tall grasses. It seemed much later than it really was in the sunfiltered forest, but once we hit the clearing, we realized that it was only midday.
We headed through the clearing back into the trees, being careful to close the gates behind us so the cows wouldn’t get out. We drove down a steep hill to the edge of the lake and stopped. My grandfather handed each of us kids a cane fishing pole he’d made for us, we baited our hooks with worms and set out to catch dinner. My dad caught most of the fish on his own pole by casting, once we had enough to eat my dad and I started cleaning and filleting the fish. My mother and grandmother cooked the fish over a campfire.
After dinner we swam in the lake and then everyone headed back to the farm house before it got dark. Smelling of lake water and mosquito spray, I tucked away my petrified rock and made sure my mud puppies were o.k. , I laid in the big feather bed listening to the crickets chirp before I fell fast asleep, exhausted from my adventure in the forest.