Note: The Whidbey Island Waldorf School – WIWS – celebrates Advent this week by hosting a spiral walk. Early childhood teachers William Dolde and Vanessa Rochon-Tierney emailed Waldorf families with the following message. While the event is limited to the school’s families to maintain social distancing during the COVID pandemic, the idea of celebrating light in the darkest times is a universal theme during the season.
At Waldorf Schools around the world, children walk a Winter Spiral of evergreens. They light a candle from a central light source and share that light with the world. This resonates with the many festivals of light in world cultures that celebrate the power of our individual and collective lights during times of darkness.
We are in remarkable times. We can not and will not ask you to gather in groups. We have reimagined our winter spiral to be a rite of passage for children and families that involves walking through the dark woods, emerging to a lit spiral at the Sunny Meadow, and returning home with a light from that spiral. In a normal year we supply each child with an apple and a candle to be lit and left somewhere in the spiral but due to the different nature of this year we are recommending the children reuse their lanterns for their walk into and out of the spiral. We will have tea lights to place in their lanterns and they will be able to bring this light down the path as you head home afterward. The entire walk will take families 20 to 30 minutes. 2 minutes will be spent near William and Vanessa in the spiral. We will all be wearing masks.
On Wednesday, December 16, we will schedule you to begin your walk through woods in 5 minute intervals. We will have marked the trail sparsely with candles in jars. We ask you to bring headlamps, lanterns, flashlights—whatever you need to feel confident in the woods. You’ll turn off your light sources once you reach the Sunny Meadow and can turn them on again on your brief walk back to school. The trails have roots and rocks. Please make sure all in the family are ready for this adventure.
We will tend to schedule families newer to our school and/or families with younger children toward the early part of the walk; 4pm or so. We will schedule families who have been part of our school for many years and/or with older children later in the walk (6pm or later). Some very experienced families may want to try walking with no or little light (but having good back-up).
Some families may hike faster than others. Please allow such a family to hike through. Please do not join up and hike together as a larger group.
This is also NOT a time to invite friends or grandparents (as you may have for past winter spirals); we will make an exception for children who have 2 households. We are in a serious time of the pandemic, and for us to provide this festival, we need to be as scrupulous as possible.
Before we create the schedule for our Cafe in the Woods and Sunny Meadow families, we need to know if you are able and willing to attend.
And, of course, our state’s response to the pandemic may cause us to shift things even more. We hope what we have created (outside, masked, one family at a time) will be safe and profound.
With warmth and light.
This Is Whidbey was founded by Kate Poss for readers who are interested in cultivating our island’s quality of life, including its land, sea, and air; its people, plants, and animals; and the bodies, minds, and spirits of its inhabitants. You may know Kate from her work in island libraries through May of 2016. Her background includes a career in newspaper reporting in Los Angeles for various weeklies and dailies, including The Los Angeles Times. She was a frequent contributor to the online Whidbey Life Magazine and still writes for the biannual print magazine.
Stories are highlighted by David Welton’s excellent photography. David is a retired physician who was a staff photographer for Whidbey Life Magazine since its early days. His work has also appeared in museums, art galleries, newspapers, regional and national magazines, books, nonprofit publicity, and on the back of the Whidbey Sea-Tac Shuttle!