Sketching thru the seasons is another great P.L.A.Y. way to pass the time connecting to nature both indoors and out.
Botanical Line Drawing by Peggy Dean
I find drawing doesn’t come easily to me however I am always inspired to keep trying, especially with a book like Peggy’s as a guide, knowing it is truly more about the (P.L.A.Y.) process than the product.
Draw, write, color, and creatively capture your discoveries on the pages of your very own Nature Adventure book!
Winter is full on here in New England and what better time than in the snow to doodle a simple design that gets your creative juices flowing and your happy feet dancing!
For a long time I’ve been inspired by Andy Goldsworthy’s Land Art projects that can be both simplistic in design and complicated to create. From large rock cairns to ephemeral and colorful leaf patterns in the water his work is always tied to nature and as far as I can see very much tied to a sense of PLAY!
With a summer filled with days that are either super soggy or super hot and humid it is fun to take a moment and dig into the archives to remember a cool and creative winter wonderland P.L.A.Y. day in which all the rainbow Capkins lined up to feel the love in the soft seasonal snow.
When Mitzi arrived at our home she had already lived with other humans. Some of these folks had unfortunately mistreated her and others simply misunderstanding her needs and all having called her by other given names. And so at the age of roughly 10 years old she began “again” with her new human family and was given her new name by my 20 something year old daughter who would now be her new caretaker (in addition to her own small herd of goats).
The first thing we learned was that we had to meet Mitzi on her terms or else she would bite or scratch you. Some of us took longer to learn this than others. You see, she looked very soft and cuddly, she would purrrrr as you approached, and would even roll over and expose her belly to you as if inviting a few good rubs. However, she rarely accepted these gestures and typically swatted you quickly with her claws or nipped at your hands hence the warning “don’t pet cat – she bites!” that now graced our doorstep.
The humans, both family and community members, over time learned to give her space, talk to her in a gentle manner, and when properly suited up (as in wearing a snow suit head to toe) you could actually have her sitting in your lap for a brief moment. Then as the seasons passed and she settled into her new space Mitzi began to allow my daughter to fully pick her up routinely and my husband was granted this same pleasure on occasion too. Harmony, for the most part, had settled in at our front door.
Mitzi became very much a part of our daily comings and goings always there to greet you at the front porch and often seen out our windows going on adventures in the meadow. She spent time in our gardens whenever we were weeding or planting and seemed to enjoy our company. The goats learned to tolerate her and she them especially on long winter days in the barn when a snow storm was piling the inches up outdoors and they were stuck inside together. And when my daughter spent time in the barn with all of them they could be content if she laid in the middle and they each sat to one side. It had an essence of Fern in Charlotte’s Web about it except my daughter was navigating her early 20’s and simply found it soothing to be with her fur babies.
And now after sharing the past 3 years with us Mitzi has passed away of natural causes. My daughter was hesitant to put the “don’t pet cat – she bites” sign on her grave, located near her butterfly garden, as she felt Mitzi had come such a long way in her behaviors towards humans. In the end though it seemed most appropriate as it was done with love and acknowledgement of how we learned to take her on her own terms and what a special gift she left us with in learning how to P.L.A.Y. and connect in her own special way.
This experience has had me thinking what a true gift it would be if we all learned to apply the lesson Mitzi taught our family:
Simply meet everyone on their own terms.
See, hear, value, and learn to understand a person or animal as is versus trying to change them into something you’d like them to be.
This is the truest and simplest gift of being present and embedded in the very nature of P.L.A.Y.
Sending wholehearted hugs and wishing you many P.L.A.Y. days with your loved ones- both your fur and human family.
We’ve had quite the odd summer so far here in New England. It has been either full on hot sunshine or full on rain for most of this season thus far. There hasn’t been too many days with clear and moderate temperatures.
We began with super dry conditions and wondering if we would ever get the chance to enjoy building a campfire in the fire pit out in our community meadow. The garden seedlings needed constant tending to with frequent watering and folks adding mulch or wood chips to help retain the moisture.
There were very hot days that clustered together to make a heat wave more than once in both May and June.
Then the rains came in and everyone gave thanks for the assistance in watering the gardens and had much gratitude for the green lushness that naturally arrived too.
And now we are in the opposite situation where we are having day, after day, after day of rain. And the rain comes in quantities that have been raising the water levels in both the brook (seen above/below) and in the river adjoining our community property. A gain of 7 inches of rain was recorded in our personal gauge in just the span of a few days.
The gardens are now well watered naturally and the hoses sit all curled up wondering when they will ever get used again. The forest has mushrooms that are not typically seen at this time of year and the red efts have been seen in larger numbers on top of the leaf litter on my walks in the woods.
My daughters 6 year old goats, who are not known to thrive in rainy conditions due to hoof rot and other ailments, are tired of being penned up at the barn and eagerly await a dry day to be back out in the meadow munching on all that greenery that has been growing “like weeds”!
And that fire pit, well it has been mowed during one brief reprieve in the rain and now it sits all soggy waiting to dry out just enough to welcome our community to circle up and sit on the benches and share stories, roast marshmallows, and return to summer P.L.A.Y. time traditions.
May you and yours be taking the moment to soak in both the sun and the rain and being present for all the P.L.A.Y.nature moments in your neck-of-the-woods this summer.
On Mother’s Day this year a rare Sun Halo or Whirling Rainbow appeared over Massachusetts. It was a magical moment that hovered in time and caused me to pause and take notice as nature so often does.
However, this moment in particular had a special meaning as I shared it together with my family as we were just emerging from a stretch of mental health challenges that rocked our world and we each seemed to be carving out time to spend in the great outdoors as a part of our recovery.
Actually what I have noticed most since our heightened mental health moment is that we have not only been carving out specific time to spend in nature many of us are actually craving it.
Whether it is gazing upon a bed of tulips mindfully planned to bring forth a painter’s palette of color as we exit the last of winter’s embrace and stretch towards the longer daylight hours of spring and begin new plantings in the butterfly and veggie gardens or . . .
spying dandelions springing up in unexpected places with a burst of golden yellow in both the meadow and wherever the seeds have spread over the years, all of these beauties and outdoor activities fill our tank with a much needed sense of calm and renewal.
Stumbling upon the graceful unfurling of the ferns down near the river’s edge on a nature walk or . . .
seeking out the apple blossoms on a bird walk as they are beckoning bees, hummingbirds, and humans to share in the celebration of their annual return bringing new hope to the landscape for another season of sweet goodness.
May you and yours always find your way home again, especially when it feels like your mind or body or spirit have lost their way, by relying on nature to nurture you in times of these great challenges and may every day be a time to focus on your mental health so that you may all bloom and continue to grow into the very humans you were meant to be.
Mental Health Matters
Your unique and beautiful presence in this world is very much needed and is the gift that keeps on giving.