So there I was on my weekly sortie to the horse barn, and a little snow squall blew through. The temperature was hovering around 40F, so nothing was going to stick, but the wind was ferocious, and the day FELT cold enough to snow.
When I realized, “Hey, it’s snowing!” my heart leapt up. My pleasure in the moment was spontaneous, but as predictable as winter itself. I love the sight of the first snow flurries and always have. In my family, there’s an oft-told story of one of my brothers, calling home from some far-away young adult adventure, and the pretext for his call was simply to crow to my mother, “It’s snowing!”
When I got home from the horse barn, I found an email from one of my sisters warning me that if a box of bulbs showed up in the mail without a note, that was her Christmas present to me–early enough so I could plant them before the ground froze. I typically plant several hundred bulbs each fall, and the thought of having yet still more to play with maketh me to smile. That my sister knows me well enough to add to my bulb stash is another cause for joy. (And if I run out of room on my own two acres to plant bulbs, I go freestylin’ up in the woods.)
Why do I like to plant flowers? Since childhood, I have enjoyed playing in the dirt. Flower gardening means I can be outside, away from life’s vexations, puttering around with simple tools in hopes of making my springtime a little cheerier.
Reading was also a childhood pastime. My father believed that television was the devil’s invitation to idleness and mental passivity, so we were forbidden to watch TV on school nights (unless the Grinch was on, or a Charlie Brown special… Dad made a few exceptions). But we were allowed to read anything we could get our hands on, and I recall at least one summer when my mom got me to the library often enough that I read through every musical biography they had.
All of this puts me in mind of what a very experienced foster care supervisor told me years ago: We know which kids will probably succeed following a foster care experience, and which kids are more likely fail. Two factors separate the successes and failures in most cases. First, somebody showed the successes a healthy definition of love, and, second, somebody also saw to it that those kids had a healthy definition of play–recreation, messing around, having a good time, and enjoying themselves.
In the current situation, I can see how absolutely vital it is that I have the time and means to play. To hug a horse, to delight in snowflakes smacking me in the face, to curl up with a good book (Captain Lacey, represent!), or to while away an hour digging in the dirt restores my soul.
Do you play as you did in childhood? Is there a form of recreation you enjoyed earlier in life that you hope to get back to? To one commenter, I’ll send a $50 Amazon gift card.