Start a chart of the plants and animals Sam encounters. Identify each one with a written description. Include how Sam uses the plants.

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chsmith1957 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Let’s start with the animals. Sam sees certain ones regularly enough that he names them. The Baron is a weasel. Frightful is the falcon that Sam trained. Jessie Coon James is the raccoon who helps find freshwater mussels in the stream. Mr. Bracket, Mrs. O’Brien, Mrs. Callaway, and Mrs. Federico are chickadees. Barometer is a nuthatch. Sam also hears random whippoorwills, crows, owls, and other birds. The animals he kills and eats are frogs, turtles, crayfish, mussels, and rabbits. Whenever hunters leave their deer behind, Sam finds them and makes use of them. He eats the venison, he makes clothes out of the hides, and he uses the fat for candles.

You’ll have to read the book more closely to find all of the plants that Sam finds and uses. You can begin with the fifth chapter, called “This Is About the Old, Old, Tree.” We already know that Sam eats hickory nuts and makes acorn flour for pancakes. Now he tells about finding edible spring wildflowers during his first days in the woods: dogtooth violets, spring beauties, and dandelions. He also finds crow eggs that he cooks and eats. He uses a big skunk cabbage leaf as an impromptu bowl to boil the eggs in. He also uses an aspen pole as a sort of calendar. He carves a notch into it to mark each day. And as he continues to live in the hollowed-out tree, he discovers more plants and more uses for them nearly every day.

Even if you do not live on your own on the side of a mountain, you can keep track of the plants and animals that you see in your own neighborhood. Keeping a chart of what plants grow, when they bloom or go to seed, and when birds migrate through the area, is called phenology. If you maintain your lists for more than a year, you can document seasonal and annual changes. You can become a citizen scientist.