Take Time to Play


Ohhh, if only I could have captured the playful dance scampering in the rain among the thatch of green! So mesmerized, I couldn’t look away. A silent whisper to my ear. “Do not move, for in a second the beauty of this may disappear.”

Gray skies hovered above flowered fields altering between drizzles and downpours during all of this past week. Temperatures fluctuated from the tip-top of hot before crashing to cool.

As I gazed out the glass to the back of my yard, sheets of light, steady rain continued to fall, creating a small stream. The shallow water swirled around a row of tall pines toward the willow tree. Suddenly a flash of colored honey caught my eye. 

As if Walt Disney himself waved his magic wand from above, a family of four left their little forest land to wander upon the soft carpet of my lawn.

One by one, a young buck of fuzzy horns, together with his beautiful doe and two spotted fawns slowly began to eat foliage while heaven’s showers fell upon their backs. She was on high alert, eyes darting in all directions while twins bounded out of sight. Suddenly, spindly legs scampered around the corner. 

The doe came closer to my patio, trying to reel her babies in, but they were having none of it. Instead, they began to tease her with play. She did not appear happy. Her tail of white raised straight up while she stomped her right front hoove. The fawns continued running back and forth in a zig-zag pattern right beneath the wet of their mother’s shiny black nose. 

Finally, the doe did something I had never seen before. She began to PLAY with the twins, imitating them two or three times by taking a few steps forward before backing up to wait for them to do the same. Which they did, before playfully running to and fro in front of her.  

The rain continued to fall, steady drops from the sky soaking all below, incouraging life to survive and thrive….and yes, even take time to play.

*photo rights http://www.curiousnaturalist.com and Google Chrome

Let There Be Play!


I’ve been thinking of the little children I saw over the weekend who took delight in Halloween, including my own grand-babies.

Throughout all of the years of my life, I’ve never bothered to research the word, Halloween. Sure, I’ve heard whispers of evil stories associated with October 31st.  At movie theatres, I’ve seen trailers for spooky picture shows, and in stores there are always the covers of horror books.   Still, seeing the excitement of children in anticipation of the holiday, I always wondered,  “How could that be?”

Long ago, when my own two boys were barely into preschool and kindergarten, my oldest had recently been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.  Life for children and families was very different from it is today.  Insulin was our only defense and rules were rigid in order to keep children safe and healthy.  No sugar what-so-ever was ever allowed unless it was an emergency.  So what to do about Halloween?

Motherly instincts told me that Halloween wasn’t about good or evil.  Not inside the innocent minds of children.  I didn’t believe it was about popping melted chocolate into wee and waiting mouths.  No, in my mind, Halloween was all about traditions hidden with imaginations while taking part in play.  Behind eyes of brown or green or blue, everyone could see….

Within my mind, Halloween was about dreaming and dress-up.  Being cast in a new role to play a character on a neighborhood stage in front of a backdrop of orange and black. Painted faces laughing in mirrors of glass from deep within skinny bellies before snapshots were taken in kitchens next to siblings of the same.  Families together with bowls of candy.  Enough treats for everyone who might ring a bell.

My son living with diabetes dreamed of the same tradition as every other child.  He donned a clown suit of red and yellow, learned his line of “Trick-or-Treat” and went off to wait in the wings before taking part in his play.  Upon returning home, his face was all aglow at his performance.  He and his brother emptied brimming plastic pumpkins for all to see.  One-by-one tiny fingers counted each treat, tossing M&M ‘s together with peanut butter cups to the side for emergencies.  So proud my little boy was to show me his pile of loot!

Soon my husband came out of the next room.  He dug deep into side pockets, pulling out a couple of bills of green plus a few rounds of silver.  Our little boy clown jumped up and down..down and up.  So excited he was!  “Tomorrow we’ll go shopping,” I said, squeezing him tight.  That set a new stage for our Halloween every year thereafter.  No matter what, our son would always be cast in the annual Halloween play.

For young children everywhere, Halloween is all about tradition, expectation and imagination.  Taking part in play!  There is no doubt in my mind this still holds true today.

Hoping everyone together with their cast and crew enjoyed your own Halloween play!

Clapping my hands for you!

 

To Witness Imagination


Have you ever witnessed imagination?  Has it ever given you a magical feeling, perhaps a tingling inside or has it ever been so tangible that you could almost touch it?  Please, stay with me for a moment….

I truly did see imagination recently.  No, not in my dreams upon resting my head on a feather pillow in the quiet of the night.  Nor when I was alone, thinking silently to myself what I should begin to write.   The imagination I’m speaking of took place in the out-of-doors where red maple trees grow tall at the base of my little forest land.

The cast of characters played on a stage of thick emerald grass.  They consisted of my husband, our ‘Doodle’ dog, and my precocious grand-daughter of three and a half years.  It’s important now to add the extra ‘half’ at the end of threeYOU understand.  She was staying overnight together with her baby brother who I was feeding in a faded kitchen high chair, patterned in purple nursery rhymes.

Hearing screams of giggles and laughter, I looked out white double doors through panes of glass leading to the patio and beyond.  Doodles was chasing the little one dressed in jeans, her head flopping to and fro in natural curls as she tumbled on the carpet of green.  Grandpa picked her up by rubber heels to swing her back and forth while she shouted with glee.  As I tended to my grandson, helping him spoon vanilla yogurt dribbling from his mouth, he pointed to the window.  “Doo-Doos,” he smiled.  “Doo-Doos outside.”  Just then more shrieks began.  In that moment I gazed at imagination in play.

My grand-daughter was on the left, near a tree dropping golden leaves.  Falling…f.a.l.l.i.n.g. My husband stood a few yards away, clutching an imaginary string before he began to run around the yard, calling her to follow him.  Smiles lit her face from within, pink as cotton candy on a day at the fair.  She chased him around the yard with Doodles running alongside, barking through colored piles of leaves along the way.

Suddenly they stopped at a red maple tree.  It appeared as though the string had gotten caught on a branch.  Together they pulled and tugged, careful not to break such a delicate thing.  Finally, my husband reached high in the sky, above wooden branches and hidden crinkled leaves to untangle what only they could imagine.  Finally free, he handed it to my worried grand-daughter, who waited patiently below the tree.

Relieved, she beamed with joy, kissing her grandpa on a stubbled cheek.  There, he helped her touch the colorful kite, careful not to snap its hidden Popsicle sticks or break the string of white.  Together, they ran across the whole back of the yard, one last time before an open fist let their cherished kite fly free.  Up…up…up it went behind clouds of white into the blue.  As I watched from the warmth of my kitchen, I felt my heart sing from deep within my chest.

Never before did I love my husband more than on that very day.  He inspired our little grand-daughter’s imagination to come alive.  There’s no doubt in my mind that she believed everything about her Grandpa’s fantasy.  She felt it and touched it, played with it and lived each and every special moment within her imagination.

As my nose began to crinkle like it always does before crying with sentimental joy I thanked God for a new blessing.

I witnessed imagination…..!

kites

 

Carnival Day


Last year my husband and I held a Halloween carnival for children living in our neighborhood.  So much fun it was, we decided to repeat the affair.  Anticipation grew as fall leaves turned yellow and red within our trees.  It was that time of year again.  Soon, ghostly goblins and fairy princesses would come a-calling.  Of course, our grandchildren would be stopping by as well.  Little babes dressed in fantasy costumes would be letting their imaginations run away.

Our oldest grand-daughter, not yet three, spent that day with us.  Together, we baked ghostly cookies of sugared purple before she busied herself with Motherhood.  A doll under each arm plus two more stuffed in a pink seat.  A stroller of four feet pushed on maple floors before it was time to eat.

“Grandpa” had to wake our precious princess before the carnival began.  Out of bed she flew, like a hummingbird to sugar-water.  Upon entering our back yard, it was as if magic happened while she slept.  Chocolate cupcakes decorated in lavender fluted frosting sat under the umbrella table.  Games were strategically placed on the lawn waiting for children to play.  Near our tallest pine, a brightly colored pile of leaves was ready and waiting for kids to tumble in.

Soon children and parents from houses near-by began to arrive.  There were characters from Frozen, Mario and his friends from video games, and a darling girl proudly dressed in her very best dress.  She showed it off to me, even letting me touch it!  So soft it was, made of thin wale corduroy, black (of course) trimmed in holiday orange.

Shortly thereafter my grown children arrived, carrying costumed babies on shoulders.  Security was tight.  At six months old and smiling bright, there was a new sheriff in town.  Soon, a sweet cotton pumpkin toddled by.  All plump in bright orange wearing black tights with suede boots to match.  It was as if she escaped from our local pumpkin patch!

Moms from the neighborhood helped out, encouraging kids to play games, where each and every child won a prize…maybe two or three, or even more!  On the patio a giant black tub made of plastic was filled with prizes for all of them to see.  Carnival day is a bit of magic to last the whole year through.  Much more for me than any of the children.

As each one neared the tub to pick a prize, eyes would grow to saucer size.  What would you like?   Play dough, monster trucks or jewels of diamond pink to wear with your princess dress?  Try these skeleton gloves on for size.  Perfect for the cold of night.  They glow, you know!  Rubber dinosaurs or army men?  Glittery bracelets or Barbie stickers?  How about a pack of Halloween pencils with colorful erasers? Or maybe you’d like a sparkling magic wand?   Perhaps a puzzle for later play?

Splish-splash!  Sweet babies dunked chubby hands into tubs of water, grasping for swimming rubber ducks in their mother’s hopes of winning rattles, fuzzy caps or teething rings.  What a sight to see a baby grab a slippery duck!

Shaded In a corner, I painted lopsided pumpkins of yellow, red hearts or black kitty cats on cheeks of warm pink.  Girls with smiles of pearls gazed prettily in a hand-held mirror of blue.  It was the perfect day!

By far, the biggest “Hit” of the carnival was definitely my husband who drove his lawn tractor, shiny and green.  In the rear, a wagon was attached stuffed with straw and yellow hay.  Soft it was.  Kids could sit and sink right in.  And, yes, they surely did!!  Piling in and plopping down, they held tightly to the sides. Giggles and smiles, joyful glee.

Around and around the subdivision my husband wore a silly chicken hat atop his graying head.  An innocent child sat upon his lap.  More in the back.  Up and down straw flew all around.  Some landed on the ground and in the street.  Little hands up in the air helped it disappear.  A bright green machine trimmed in yellow drove through empty lots and up the curb where squeals were heard.

Carnival Day….The perfect one in every way.

Happy Halloween!

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Gracie-Girl


I tossed and turned all night, the leftovers of a fever and a cold. For whatever reason my mind was writing in the dark, no keyboard present, no notepad to scribble upon. I have this blog of course and a book I’m knitting, but sometimes the best words tumble out at the worst times it seems.  2, 3, 5 and then finally 6 am. Safe to venture into the quiet of the morning where I sip a cup of decaf within the cocoon of library shelves.

It might have been anticipation that steered my mind away from slumber. It’s true that I’ll be at my desk for most of the drizzly day, but when the clock strikes four all sunshine and fairy-land will begin. “Ding-Dong” the bell shall ring. I will have to contain myself, for behind the leaded glass a smudged face of lilliputian size with blue eyes as big as saucers will be waiting there. “POOF,” there she is, a miniature magic princess is upon my front portico.

Until her parents leave she plays the timid mouse. It’s a dress rehearsal of sorts for she soon marches into independence becoming the boss of the house which delights me so. She reaches for my hand, “Grandma, come,” marching me into her playroom where the “routine” begins. Imaginary tea-parties dance along a make-shift table, where “Winnie-the-Pooh” and “Raggedy-Ann,” pull up miss-matched, antique wooden painted chairs. Carefully, she decides the perfect animal cookies for her guests, while rocking her favorite baby gently in the crook of her left arm. Not yet two years old, she is already the best of future Mamas-to-be!

Next, she chooses story books for me to read aloud long kept from years ago. We snuggle like two bugs under an old crystal covered floor lamp.  Much like I did when I read to my own children at her age, silly voices ‘high’ and ‘low’ are heard within the soft hush of the room. She squirms and twists upon my lap, reaching for my mouth with eyes all a wide. Soon she’s figured it out, “Yes, it’s Grandma!” Falling down into balls of giggles, quickly she jumps back up upon her feet. “Again!” she says before the cycle begins anew.

Gracie’s Poem

She’s a beauty

with skin soft and smooth

and eyes the color of “Bahama Blue.”

A genius like her parents,

full of spirit like them too.

I’d steal Cinderella’s castle for her or slay a moose if I must,

Instead, I’m gifted time and tea-parties…

Thank you, God, no  better way to spend upon this earth, I trust.

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My Gracie-Girl has a birthday today, becoming a big girl at the age of four. I discovered this post together with a nostalgic tear in my eye. Happy Birthday, Sweet One.