Thursday, June 03, 2010


I was going to post about how the kids used the new blocks I made for them . . .

. . . but I forgot to get out the camera, and since I named them "blocks," most of the sculptures we assembled using bamboo skewers and twine were dismantled at the end of play. I got some pictures of some of the structures put together with bailing wire . . .

. . . but frankly the kids were most engaged with the scissors, wire cutters, and hand drills, which they used for making their own holes in the wood. Two-year-old Vaughn had to stand on a milk crate to get enough leverage to bore through the wood, but man was he proud when he managed it!

Instead, however, I'm going to write about mud.

A couple days ago, Catherine at Squiggle Mum wrote a terrific post about playing and learning in the rain, but what struck me most was how special rain was for the children of Queensland where they get so much scorching sun that the schools have the rule "No hat, no play." Kids in rainy Seattle, on the other hand, sometimes object to going outside because it's "too bright."

We live in what was once a vast rain forest. The first European Americans to record their experiences exploring the Northwest, the famous Lewis and Clark Expedition, named their time at Fort Clatsop (on what is now the Oregon-Washington border) "The Winter of Discontent." They reported that of their 106 days here, only 12 were free of rain and only six were sunny. Living here, it's easy to look outside at the grey and wet, even if it isn't cold, and decide to just hunker down until summer like Lewis and Clark did. But Catherine's post has had me seeking out the beauty I've been overlooking these past several months, seeing my world through the eyes of those kids in Brisbane.

Yesterday afternoon we had a nice downpour after which I took the dogs for a walk in the Pandora in my back yard and snapped pictures of our most ubiquitous natural phenomenon: mud.  I did so while listening to the B-52's latest album, "Funplex," which provided an interesting, and not entirely inappropriate soundtrack to our walk.

First you have to put on your boots.

"He's a mess, but he's really pretty!"

"I, I, I'm looking for some fun . . ."

"Crazy planet . . ."

"Caught in the splendor . . ."

"Spread your seed on fertile ground . . ."

"Let's go down to our secret place . . ."

"We're on auto cruise to a strange latitude . . ."

Some mud is just an abstract painting.

"Liquid lover, you bottled it right . . ."

"Yum, now this is what water should taste like!"

"They do the slow boogaloo in the driving rain."

"Tell your skirt to take a hike!"

"Hey lady!
What lady?"

There were adult sized bare footprints in this mess!

"I got to have it."

"Well it all seems so simple."

"Have you tried it?"

"We're in deep."

"So intense, no sense, but feeling fine."

"Now I can smile."

"It's what we like!"

"Here we are."

"Wild eyed in a crazed haze."

"Follow your bliss."

"I just can't resist."

"Pleasure is calling you . . .

"Take this party to the White House lawn."

"Love the way that you move that stuff."

We even ride our bikes in mud.

"It's part of this earthly delight."

"You're a force of nature. Can't be controlled."

"We've gotta be part of this universe."

And you'll want to wear boots.

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Kat said...

It looks beautiful - but the opposite of what we have here. South Florida is generally sunny, hot, and humid. We do get some summer rain but no mud because of the sandy soil. It has taken me almost 8 years but I am slowly learning to appreciate the particular beauty of the place where I live. Thanks for the reminder to appreciate what you have in your own backyard.

Play for Life said...

That is my kind of walk Tom! I am very much a wet weather gal.
Here in Melbourne we've been experiencing drought for the past ten years. Sad fact ... every child currently attending our kindergarten has lived with differing "stages" of water restrictions their entire life ... how sad is that!
This year we've only had 45 wet days. So I say ... get your children outside to enjoy mud and water play, you just don't know when it will all dry up!
Donna :) :)

* I'm just going to go back over your post and live vicariously through your photos one more time! :)

bre said...

This is great! I love the blocks too!

SquiggleMum said...

Oh happy day! Teacher Tom writing about me!!

Sherry and Donna are right. My kids have only ever known water restrictions. No using the hose, or playing in the sprinkler like I did in my own childhood. We just don't have the water to spare!

If my kids want to play in mud, we have to catch the rainwater ourselves and create our own muddy patch! LOL Loved seeing the abundance of glorious mud in your area.

Michele @ The Hills are Alive said...

It is a bit sad here in Qld - every summer I get all nostalgic about childhood games of running under the sprinkler and playing with the hose and slip and slide and all the other wasteful things we did as kids without a though to conserving water. Now our kids are lucky if they get to splash in a bucket - but yes like Cath (only an hour south of me) we make the most of the rain. One of our kids favourite activities is jumping on the trampoline in the pouring rain, closely followed by playing in the mud it creates, playing boats and dams in the gutters out the front as the water races down towards the drain and walking to the little creek at the end of our street or even better the one in the rainforest behind grandmas for all sorts of adventures (just mind the leeches!)
We love rain and mud around these parts (and GUMBOOTS too Cath - they must have GREAT gumboots where Teacher Tom lives with all that glorious rain)

Ariella said...

You are awesome Teacher Tom! Love the blocks and the mud, and everything else!
Thanks for visiting my blog, and yes I do understand your aversion to templates! Let me know if you ever make any of the butterflies!

Juliet Robertson said...

Hi Tom

BIG thanks for this posting. It makes a lovely activity for all ages - go for a walk, take lots of photos and find suitable song lyrics to accompany the pictures.

Nice work

Nellica said...

I'm a Displaced Washingtonian in Upstate NY. What I wouldn't give for a tromp through the slop! Lay down a 2x6 from the driveway to the front door, like a bridge over muddy sludge. Enjoyed your pics a lot, like a mini vacay home!

jenny said...

Tom, after a week of downpours I was thinking of you at preschool the other day - I felt like I had stepped into your rainy world! We ended up with so much mud at preschool that mud play was the name of the game.

Those blocks are a wonderful idea - I'm making some blocks with the kids from driftwood, and I think some like yours may be next on the agenda!

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