Friday, February 29, 2008


Meetings are motivators. I recently went to a Green Arts workshop that was designed to explore ways for artists and conservationists to work together. At one point, we were brought together to discuss how we all PLAY green. One of the group leaders mentioned that her area of focus was to get kids and adults to spend more time outside, to get out there and play with what nature so generously provides. She’s spent a number of years going into the schools with environmental programs and was disappointed at the number of kids who can’t get their shoes dirty, or they think you can’t go outside because it’s winter, because you know, it’s too cold or it’s too wet. That got me thinking……on the kid side of things, I am pretty confident that my daughter wouldn’t be one of the kids worried about getting her shoes dirty. As a matter of fact, I’m hard pressed to find an article of clothing in her drawers that doesn’t have dirt, paint, or some sort of stained ‘souvenir of play’ ground into it. I am always trying to encourage her to use her imagination, make a mess, get dirty. I’ve had more fun building her things like mudbars, outdoor rooms, and miniature treehouses, for just that reason. On the adult side of things, I realized, that I, personally, could be doing a much better job of making time for play, as well. I mean, we can’t play until we get all our work done, right?! Well, who ever gets all their work done?!!! Seems like the list is always getting longer, rather than shorter. So, by golly, the next day, which was a Sunday, I bundled everyone up and said we’re going on an adventure, outside in the yard…(as soon as we get the laundry room painted and the house picked up!)
The snow had fallen heavily the night before, and it was blowing like crazy…less than ideal conditions for an adventure, or so most would think. It turned out to be one of the best refreshers I’ve had in a long time! I am someone who can’t ever seem to shut down the ‘idea generating’ side of my brain, so no matter what I’m doing or where I’m at, I see some sort of creative opportunity, and I must say, they were everywhere that day. There were photo opps. at every turn, offering me pictures that I could later use in collages or art projects. We built a ‘snowbunny’ rather than a snowman. Why does everyone always have to build a snowMAN?! That got our chilled wheels mulling over what we could build next time, instead of the traditional Frosty. At one point, we had all walked out on the dock and for some reason, I looked down to notice the different impressions all of our boots were making. Click....another interesting photo. Once I looked at the picture, I was motivated to start writing a poem I’m calling ‘footprints in the snow’. I never write poems, mind you, (and I’m sure mine will be a rhyme-r) but something about that photo and that day motivated me to start writing more. How ‘bout that, I made time for play and even got a little ‘work’ out of it. I guess when you’re doing what you love for a living, the two always go hand in hand.

I hope all of you reading this are in turn motivated to get outside and play, no matter what time of year it is. Soak in all the amazing textures, patterns and colors. Get up close and personal with some of them and preserve them on your camera. Play with how you frame things up. Challenge yourself to build something while you’re out there using only what nature has surrounded you with.

The words of John Muir capture it best….
“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.”

“I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.”

Cheers, to playtime well spent!

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