This is my new favorite phenology spot. I’m now capturing this solitary walnut tree, which is located on the drive into Bernheim, on a regular basis. These two shots were, respectively, September 12 and October 3rd, 2014. I still have much love for my older photographic subjects but I really like the way these shots capture the tree, the grassland, and the tree line in the distance. I’m hoping there is a good bit of information that will be captured here that might be used in some way in the future. And I can’t wait to see this tree through the winter months. This has been one of the highest mast production years in memory. The walnuts, persimmons, pecans, hickories, dogwoods, oaks and others have been pumping out the fruit/seeds this year. Fecund.
When children play with toys that self-define what they are… cars, castles, dolls, barns, … play is often limited to the boundaries of those objects. Cars do what cars do. Dolls do what dolls do. But when children are exposed to lots of loose parts that can only really be defined by imagination, the boundaries of their play expands. I only wish you could have heard the dialogue that went with this particular play moment. The ingredients of the moment are all pictured. The invitation to play is at the top. It is followed by the ingredients of play. It ends with one picture of play in progress. Here’s a fairly succinct link to information about loose part play theory from Surrey County in England. HERE
On Saturday, October 5th, as part of the first Children at Play Conference at Bernheim, a small community of play advocates and children gathered to explore how children play when they are allowed the opportunity to interact with their environment in ways that most “fixed equipment” playgrounds don’t. We provided lots of “loose parts” such as:
- cardboard boxes
- cut bamboo
- ropes, strings and cargo webbing
- straw bales
- sticks, rocks and stumps
- driftwood logs
- canvas tarps
- balls, plungers
We offered them knives and box cutters to use under supervision. We helped tie knots and move heavy things when assistance was asked for. We gave them drums and buckets and brooms. But mostly we stayed out of their way simply observing. When children have the opportunity to fully interact with their environment they play in ways that look very different from the way they play in most playground environments. They interact with each other more fully. They make up rules and social contracts with one another. They focus on a task and stay on focus for long periods of time. They problem solve. They problem create. They put things together, including their thoughts, in creative and interesting ways. Here’s a few pictures from the day.
The other morning I was having breakfast with my five-year old when she said “I can’t wait for the weekend.” It was a Monday. I asked her what she especially liked about weekends. She thought things over for about half a minute while she was eating her oatmeal. Her response…”Cause on weekends I can eat lunch slowly.” I think, ultimately, that we are doing our children a disservice by over scheduling and tightly cramming their days with “time on task.” What is our ultimate goal with children? This kind of industrialized education will kill us. I agree with you my daughter…let’s eat slowly today.
Matt Weir has been hard at work installing Earth Measure at Bernheim over the past several months. The work is a landscape scale collection of mostly geometric elements inspired by the life work of Barry Bingham Jr. who was involved in media, newspapers, photography and nature. That’s a short list. Before Barry’s death in April of 2006 he was a trustee of Bernheim. Matt’s sculpture is a tribute to Barry funded by an anonymous donor. For me, the project has afforded an opportunity to witness the creation of what will be a monument that will last far beyond anyone currently involved in the project. Perhaps one day these pictures and the the stories they tell will be an important reminder of the beginnings. For now, it’s a rare opportunity to be a fly-on-the-wall as stone is added and then chipped away. The grassy lawn in the middle of the piece will make a great place for a party one day soon. Since I’ve got keys perhaps there will be a late night shindig there sometime soon.
Happy birthday We the People. Our day was low key but quite fun. It rained all day so we made forts, created a witch costume (still not sure where that came from) ate gooseberries, had a cookout at the family home, watched the evening primrose burst open at just after 9:00 p.m. and then rode through Cherokee Park on the way home where we encountered a small group of teens shooting off about $30 worth of cheap fireworks. That is the perfect scale fireworks show for my tastes. And it’s fun to watch a gang of teens coordinate the simultaneous launch of two roman candles and three star bursts. Cheers yall.
Watching closely related children on a swing. There are techniques for doing things that are taught and learned, those that are discovered, and those that are inate. It’s hard to tear those three apart.