Keys in the Forest

The children collect wrong keys in the baskets that I bring down for our forest trips. The wrong keys are evenly-broken twigs. They are collected in a basket and dropped, like bread crumbs, around the forest floor for the witches and the bears to find. The children don’t need “right” keys to open their imaginary and impenetrable doors. The doors will simply open for them. They have passwords and the knowledge that the doors will open. The wrong keys are found by the baddies and they are fooled into believing that the keys will open the doors. They will never get in, but they are always trying. Never give up!

The children have baskets and two pots and things to stir the things they put in the pots. They have homes, boats, and holes to dig. All of these things wrapped around coming and going, trapping and getting away. The adults can’t see the doors or the things that need to be trapped. We are left alone to wander around the forest looking for things that interest adults, puffballs, mushrooms, and witch’s butter. We call the children over to see. Oh, they see! They see possibilities for ingredients to make their keys even more wrong.

Where, oh where did you find the rainwater to mix into the rat stew? Now the stuffed rats are both wet and covered in smashed mushroom guts! There are so many keys that every single bear and witch in the whole world will be kept busy forever and ever.

The great, big giant space has become small and filled with ideas. All the ideas you need can fit into a basket. Wrong keys made of broken twigs that will never unlock doors that are, but aren’t, there.

Here, sit down and have some rat stew. Especially if you are a bear or a witch. That will put you to sleep for hundreds of years and you probably need a nap.

Keys, but all the wrong keys. Strategically placing these wrong keys about the forest floor will keep the bears and the witch busy for hours trying each one on the locked door.

Keys, but all the wrong keys. Strategically placing these wrong keys about the forest floor will keep the bears and the witch busy for hours trying each one on the locked door.

The pirate ship.

The pirate ship.

Digging a hole to plant a tree for the fairy house.

Digging a hole to plant a tree for the fairy house.

Rat stew.

Rat stew.

Floating in hollowed-out log canoe perched along the edge of the ridge.