Thursday, January 03, 2008

Seeing Brightness & Spreading Good Cheer

Yesterday, we woke up to snow. I shuddered and winced. Winston was ecstatic! It’s my own fault. I want him to feel connected to nature. And it’s one of the times I’m thankful for our sojourn in London. There, I took him out walking in all kinds of weather. He is not afraid of rain or snow or ice. He loves nature. He needs to be part of it.

So after our “morning meeting” and much coffee fortification - out we went! The snow was too flakey to pack. So, our plans to build a “Snow Winston” were thwarted. But, he stood there at the edge of the driveway, happily tossing chunks of snow into a slushy puddle while he sang nonsensical songs. (There is a powerful spirit which invites joyful introspection when children are allowed to simply be in nature!) Lovely as it was - I’d have been hustling him indoors if I didn’t get moving. So, I came up with the idea of a snowy walk. And off we went.

On our walk, we tracked animal footprints and guessed which kinds they were. We observed manholes with their small wet warm circle surrounding them. And all of the usual things which occur during a snowy walk.

When we returned home, we read Ezra Jack Keats’ “The Snowy Day” for the first time since we’ve returned from London (which didn’t have much snow to speak of.) He was entranced! He and Peter had done all of the very same things! How incredible! (How nice to have him completely identify and relate to a positive Black male protagonist!) Then we settled down to lunch and an afternoon of play.

His plan yesterday include a “making things” time. Late into the afternoon, he realised we hadn’t made anything. He also seemed eager to get back outside. Having noticed the many Christmas trees in the rubbish piles in front of home and inspired by our earlier nature walk, I decided that we would make winter posies for ourselves and our neighbours. Off we went.

Recently, I came across an interesting picture book, “Christmas In The Big House, Christmas In The Quarters,” by one of my favourite authors, Patricia MCKissack. And, I have to say, I was a bit let down. She isn’t as uncompromising and frank as she tends to be in this tale. But, still, I have to applaud her courage for portraying two extremely different American Christmases.

Anyway - a story within the story touched me. It stirred a vague memory of a non-European version of the same tale - but I can’t find it right now. Regardless, it is the tale of the Evergreen and why we use it to celebrate this season of harvest, (in Africa) return of the light in (Europe/America) and the miracle of light (in Judaism.) In this book, the author describes the birth of Jesus and how the whole world wanted to give him a gift - even the trees. The only tree without a gift was the Fir and it was sad, so, the stars took pity on it and gave it the gift of being ever green.

This story took on a new dimension for me as we gathered materials for our Winter posies. The holidays rush by and we enjoy them. Then all of the decorations come down. Life snaps - rubber band like - back to normal. And we press ourselves back into regular life.

During our walk, we gathered a few sticks, some evergreen branches, and some rose hips. We set about making a memory our glorious snowy day. Later, when we walked our posies to our neighbourhood friends, they were so thankful for a tiny, green memory of the holiday which had so recently passed.

And we both felt so blessed. Even in the stark, white winter landscape - there were patches of brightness. All we had to do is reach our and collect it. In giving our energy to it, we could share some bright colour and light with others.

Winter Posies

General Materials:
floral wire,
things collected on a nature walk such as: rose hips, dried grasses, small twigs, seed pods, etc.

We used:
rose hips
evergreen branches (5 - 6 inches long)

1. Have your child arrange a small bunch of the items.

2. Using the wire, wrap the bundle together. (Depending on the age of your child, you may want to start it for them)

3. If you want to create certain forms with each of the branches, individually wrap each branch. Then wire together.

4. Tie a ribbon on the top.

5. The posie can hang anywhere by simply looping the wire over a nail or suction cup.

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