“Squeaky swings and tall grass
The longest shadows ever cast
The water’s warm and children swim
And we frolicked about in our summer skin”
– “Summer Skin,” Death Cab for Cutie
There is something about the summer months that change the way it feels to be human. Maybe it is the thick, humid air. Maybe its some sort pheromones from the fecund earth (if the earth has pheremones). Who knows. It’s one of those great mysteries of existence.
I do know what it feels like though. Something like this:
The dirt on my hands connects me to the earth in a new way, the sweat on my brow reminds me I am part of everything else that came from that dirt. I feel lazy for everything but laying in the grass, staring up at trees and tracing clouds in the sky. Being human feels like enough.
It’s pretty beautiful.
A few weeks ago, we set up at a camping site at Mohican State Park with a clear, cold river running twenty feet behind our tent. We built fires every night and played in the running water every day, burning to ash then washing away all of the worries built up through the busier months, leaving something else behind. Not refreshment exactly, but more like reminder. It’s still all over my skin.
This past weekend, I attended Sawyer’s best friend Sarah’s birthday party. Her parents are super-cool, fun people who turned the party into a science themed adventure complete with a balloon pit, Easter egg/scavenger hunt, and color-explosion science lab.
I snapped some photos, and gained some inspiration. (I had a request from a workshop yesterday to host a Mindful Play Learning Lab that consists of a children’s birthday party sans kids… Yes. I shall do this.)
While researching for my play workshop, I came across an interesting concept called neoteny. According to the Scientific American article “Being More Infantile Might Have Led to Bigger Brains,” neoteny is “the retention of juvenile features.” For example, humans have big eyes, flatter faces and far less body hair than a mature chimpanzee, our closest ancestor. Basically, we have many of the features of a baby monkey. We have a slower maturation process than chimps, too.
“For the record, woohoo! Not just art, but life- magic.”
– Jandy Nelson, I’ll Give You the Sun
I am just learning how to play again; how to make life magical. How to find the silky seedlings in dried out pods while walking and then set them free in the wind one by one.
How to grab hand-fulls of leaves and smoosh them into my face before tossing them high into the air and watching them fall.
How to whisper stories to trees while I press my hand to the rough bark and listen for an answer. (See The Silent Friends video).
It is good learning.
This last week my husband Jamey and I took Sawyer (our five-year-old) to see the Lego exhibit at the Columbus Museum of Art.