Tickling the Feet

I don’t often write about indoor events, but while the rest of the world was out playing in the brisk wind of this late winter day, a few of us gathered inside the community center at Two Echo Cohousing to meet some feet.

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Meet the feet? Yes, mammal feet. It was an Advanced Seminar prepared for students and graduates of the Maine Master Naturalist Program by one of our founders and past president, Dorcas Miller.

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Dorcas has gathered mammal feet from road kill and gifts. And we gathered to take a closer look at them, determine if their stance was plantigrade (walking–entire foot on ground as we do), digitigrade (tip-toeing like a fox or coyote), or unguligrade (en pointe in ballet, like the ungulates–deer, moose, sheep), and sketch what we saw.

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Sketching is a fabulous way to take a closer look.

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And so we did,

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with intensity,

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curiosity,

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smiles,

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and giggles.

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From tiny

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to big, we had them all to study.

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We wondered what we’d find.

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And survived some interesting scents (think skunk).

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Probably the best part was that we renewed friendships formed through a combined interest in learning about the natural world.

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My own sketches were rather primitive.

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But it was noticing the details that appealed to me most.

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One of my favorite pairs–the opossum with its opposable thumb, puffy pads and grip bumps.

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When we finished sketching, we made some casts in clay. These illustrate the opossum better than I ever could.

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My final cast was the red fox–I love that the chevron shows in the print on the left and the hairiness of its feet is evident.

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At the end of the seminar, we celebrated the release of the second edition of Track Finder, written by Dorcas.

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And coveted her bear claw shawl–a gift from her guy.

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As she gave me my signed book, she told me to take a look at the Acknowledgements. She acknowledged me! I’m not sure why, but I’m certainly humbled and honored.

I also love her note to her guy–about the road kill in the freezer.

Yup, we stayed indoors today and tickled some feet. They tickled us back.