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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Toys Schmoys...

Lessons Learned

What A Beautiful Mess


Untidy. Creativity is frequently on the untidy side because if one’s imagination is to fully cut loose, it cannot be troubled, encumbered, or held guiltily captive to neat and orderly cleanliness. We were city slickers, albeit  creative city slickers, who moved heart and home to the country, place of boundless imaginative exploration and wonder amidst rolling acres and nature’s treasures.  Toys schmoys. All we needed was to be outside, for high adventure existed everywhere in nature’s magnificent playground. In every season, the creative tools of play included: rocks, mud, creeks, sticks, flowers, trees, ravines, leaves, and winding mysterious paths. The cast of our creative play included: brothers, sisters, cousins, neighbors, several Labrador retrievers, a few barn cats, and occasionally invited guests such as parents, aunts, uncles, or grandparents, but only if they brought their imaginations and didn’t mind getting muddy. Imaginations  grow and flourish in this wonderfully  rich potting soil known as the countryside. It was late October, and the colored leaves had all come down. Rain had soaked this leafy carpet leaving a rather spongy, springy floor. The paths of the ravine as well as its steep sides were covered in this soft, springy, muddy carpet.  It looked delightfully slippery to the very knowing eyes of the cousins who were well acquainted with every nook and cranny in every season of this beloved playground. Guests, friends were coming over to play while the moms shared coffee and conversation. The guests were very neat and clean and looked unmistakably like inside playing kids. We were crushed but readied our inside play accouterments to accommodate our guests. Could we play outside, they queried? Really; it’s a bit dirty out there? We never get dirty; it would be fun. Yes, it definitely would, but are you sure? It’s really, really dirty out there. Good. Okay then. So off we cousins went with our guests to the slippery slopes of the ravine, while the moms enjoyed their lovely, quiet fellowship. Time and mud and hilarity and unmatchable fun swirled around these cousins and guests as run after run after run after run we rode down the side of the ravine on the back of our pants. Caked head to toe in thick, thick mud, we all looked as if we had been dipped in creamy milk chocolate, and the sight of us to one another evoked constant, raucous peels of wild laughter from each of us as we trekked back to the house. Our mothers saw us coming from a long way off and surely heard us as well for they met us at the door with cameras first and then towels. They knew the deep value of creative play, they knew the blessing of play’s joy, and they knew that under all of that mud, which would eventually wash away, there were gargantuan heart smiles and spectacular memories of some slightly untidy, delightful childhood play that would last a lifetime.