Sunday, June 20, 2010

Playing in the snow

This photo is from about 1968 - I lived in Michigan and I was about 3 years old. As long as I can remember, I loved playing in the snow. I don't remember the day this photo was taken, but as you can see I was very happy! I was helping to make a huge snowman with my older sisters and brother.

While I was growing up, snow was my favorite plaything. I did have toys, but it wasn't the same as it is now. Now, kids get a lot more toys. I had enough toys, though. I think if I had more store-bought toys, I might not have turned out as creative as I am. My mom was really good with crafts - she even made modeling dough for me out of flour and cream of tartar. I don't remember ever having actual Play-Doh brand when I was a kid. I'm not even sure I knew when I was young that Play-Doh could be bought in a store.

I made all kinds of things out of snow. I remember making snow horses - the goal was to make it big - but not so big that I couldn't climb up on it. I never thought of making a step-stool out of snow. I guess that was too logical! But a snow horse...sure, logical to me. Sometimes I'd get a container of water and pour it over the snow horse right before it got dark outside. In the morning, the water would have turned to ice so my horse would have a hard shell and the horse could hold up to a kid sitting on it. Sometimes it would be a unicorn instead of a snow horse. For practical reasons, the snow horses and unicorns always had short, stubby legs.

After snow had been on the ground for a long time and it's been very cold, it gets a "crust" on the top of it. Sometimes the hard crust would be 2-3 inches deep. I would use whatever I had, often just the side of my hand, to chop and cut shapes out of the snow crust. I remember cutting out a lot of heart shapes. But I also cut out stars, ovals, you name it. Then the pieces could be built into other things or used as my "yard decorations."

The coolest thing about snow, and probably a very encouraging thing - was that if I messed up, it was no big deal. Nobody's going to get upset because you "wasted" something. You get to start all over. You can do it again and again until you perfect your technique of whatever it is. You always get do-overs until the snow melts. Not a lot of things in life allow that. But snow did. I've never tried sculpting. I've worked a little bit with polymer clay, but I feel very confident that if you presented me with a head sized block of clay I could sculpt a head. That's something I want to try eventually.

My children have missed out on snow fun. We've had some snow here in the Atlanta area, but it's usually gone within a day or two, and of course it's never the quantity that we had in Michigan.

I've actually seen kids in my neighborhood get excited about frost on a car. They scrape it, see it pile up on their fingernails and exclaim, "Look! Snow!"

Now that's just sad, y'all.


Katherine Thomas said...

That's such a great story. I played in the snow too. I wonder how today's children will grow up, since their toys are all so technologically oriented. I wonder if their creativity will develop in different ways... Your post was fun to read!

Darla Dixon, Artist said...

Katherine, thanks - I feel the same way, and I always try to get my kids toys that require imagination and their hands to make the toy work, rather than toys that are all battery operated and only require a button to be pushed.