So Much About Birds!
There are a million things you can do with a bird theme.
Last week I carted in bird books and stuffed birds, a nest and photographs, eggs and feathers. More than anything, they loved the feathers.
What are they good for?
Of course...the peacock feather was the favorite! We tried balancing them in an open palm. (It looks like an impressive trick actually) Libby teased us by holding it the longest and then we noticed she had it tucked between her fingers!
She's posing AFTER her stunt in this photo!
We talked about the famous artist and looked at his incredible bird paintings. Then, we decorated bookmarks with Audubon stickers and dangling feathers. I've got mine tucked into a book already.
Bird Day 2!
This Tuesday, the weather was so lovely, I thought we could continue the theme, outside on the patio!
Happy, just sitting
I thought that some of the pictures would stir up memories and conversation. We all have favorite birds. There are dozens of birds we could have listed. There are songs about birds and books with birds in the title.
I'm sure each one of us had a story we could have told... about finding a nest or having a bird get in the house, or a grandmother's bird feeder, birdhouse or birdbath! I had about 10 stories in my head, I wanted to share.
But the group was at peace, sitting quietly... ignoring my prompts.
What I learned:
You can't force wonderful conversations... even with the help of lovely weather. Sometimes you can spark a memory or a creative moment and sometimes you just sit back and peacefully enjoy each other.
There was a moment when I was coloring along with Margaret and I started singing "Blue bird, blue bird out my window" a song I remember from childhood. The others all joined in and we laughed as we kind of forgot the ending. Then we all quietly went back to our books and puzzles and coloring. Sometimes that is just all that we need.
The Easy Route
There are more interesting themes to share with The Quilt Group, but when you've got lots of Eastery things sitting around your house, it's just easy to throw some stuff in a bag and head off with the quilt!
Perfect Spring Weather
We couldn't sit inside when things were blooming out on the patio. The fresh air seemed to make everyone smile. Especially Vivian!
I warned Libby
I told her the Mystery Bag contained something kind of creepy. But mostly she and the others laughed to discover a well loved bunny.
The Velveteen Rabbit
I shared the story of my daughter, Heidi's stuffed bunny. It was once plump and even had a little color. For a good 5 years "Bobby" napped with Heidi and joined her in every activity she did. Every task was a bit trickier when clutching a bunny. Even hunting for Easter eggs was done one handed because Bobby couldn't be put down. I hoped the Bobby story would open up to more story sharing.
Talking and Decorating
I had a few pastels and some construction paper, so we did a little egg designing, with the promise that I would take their art to the kids at the Women's Shelter. (The "Quilt Kids" love knowing the "Quilt Ladies" make things for them)
But the best part of our "craft", was just sitting in the warm breeze, with the smell of roses wafting over now and then and a cat rubbing up against a leg here and there. The conversation flowed from memories of Easter baskets to egg traditions to family pets and stories of Passover. Our best story may have been from Rita about her pet chickens. But we don't have a photo of Rita, because she had just returned from a hospital stay and poor Rita had some bruising, the color of Easter eggs.
What I Learned:
Conversations seem so much more relaxed when you have some simple art task, along with fresh air! I even think fresh air helps with humor. I loved it that Dear Rita could laugh at her own "unsightly condition." And her friends went along with her humor and admitted, "You must feel a little bit like how that old stuffed bunny feels!" Rita snickered pretty good at that remark!
Scott & The Quilt
Nearly 20 years ago, when I used an old tattered quilt, my son went along with my quilt stories and games. Scott (in the green) was not as easily entertained as the other children. He was used to being a guinea pig for all my activities. None of my costumes or props surprised him. He was used to hearing my songs and he knew all my gimmicks.
Years later, Scott ended up helping me with my Quilt gatherings. He helped me drag the quilt, Pickles the Puppet and other materials to the Fort Bend Women's Shelter. Singing and dancing were never his favorites, but he played along and the kids adored him.
Quilt Goes to North Carolina
In March, my husband and I headed for a visit to North Carolina, where Scott is an AmeriCorps worker at Centro La Comunidad.
He has taught us much about his community and the challenges it faces as one of the fastest growing Latino populations in the nation. He has a great deal of passion for the men, women and children he guides daily.
We knew Scott would be working during part of our stay, so we hoped he could put us to use. Scott encouraged me to bring the quilt to work with kids and he invited his dad to bring his Spanish skills!
The Kids Taught Me!
I only had 3 siblings the day I went to help. They spoke English well and taught me a little Spanish by pointing out pictures on the quilt. Even the 8 year old was enthused and playful with the puppets and songs. I marveled at how eagerly the boys sang, to wake up Pickles the sleeping puppet, even though their baby sister was the only one you would expect to show interest.
I was surprised to see how graciously these kids took turns. And when their little sister got restless, the boys helped her get Pickles into a doll stroller, so she was busy while they tried to learn how to juggle scarves.
Observing the Kids
I watched the brothers experimenting with the scarves. They wondered why some scarves floated down more slowly than others. They figured quickly how to squish the scarves small, to make them toss higher. They noticed how the colors overlapped and made new colors. And when I pushed them to be a little more creative and "bring them to life" with some music, they didn't sneer at the idea. In fact, when I realized I didn't have my I-pod for music, the oldest suggested we sing to make the scarves dance.
What I learned from my short time observing these young kids, is that they reflect a great deal of warmth, enthusiasm and intelligence. Scott has been eager about working with the young people in his community and now I know why. These children will help mold the future and from what I see, that is a good thing!
Icing on the Cake
One last thing before we left North Carolina...a spontaneous picnic just outside the Smoky Mountains. The quilt has been on many an adventure, but this is the first time it has played the part of a picnic quilt!
For 20+ years children have called it the Magic Quilt. They've danced and pretended all over these colorful squares. I've dragged it to schools, shelters and studios where children have climbed on top to hear Magic Quilt Stories and to act them out.