Rain and Wind Theme... when Houston is flooding?
I had planned a Rain and Wind theme for the third week of April, but fretted over whether I should go ahead with it. I hadn't planned on Houston roads and airports being shut down due to flooding... on the morning of my first group!
My first gathering was cancelled since the community center closed down for 2 days. The other 3 facilities that I visited were residential, so they were more than happy to have someone show up in lousy weather.
I kept the focus on the fun stuff of rain. Umbrellas bring out the kid in most of us, especially when we have a few tiny ones to fiddle with. We talked about Mary Poppins and children jumping off porches with umbrella-parachutes.
I laughed about my brother making a twirling carousel with an upside down umbrella... with Matchbox cars, instead of horses.
Poems and Music
We read some poems about umbrellas, then listened to "Singing in the Rain" and imagined the scene with Gene Kelly dancing with his umbrella. Many had fond childhood memories of splashing through puddles and making mud pies.
Our rain nostalgia reminded many of the old tune, "Rain, Rain, Go Away!" In each group, all it took was one person's singing reminder, to get the whole group singing.
Rain or Wind?
Everyone had a chance to pick a card from the WIND or RAIN brainstorming cards. The rain cards prompted discussions about spring sprinkles and fierce storms... floods and drought.
The wind questions got us off on wonderful tangents. We remembered flying kites and puffing on pinwheels.
We pictured where we'd seen clothes blowing on the line and windmills turning. At least a couple had climbed a windmill. Some recalled hearing the sound of wind at night and the eerie sounds of branches scratching on the window.
Sounds of Rain
We passed around a rainstick to help us recall the sound of rain. We agreed that wasn't exactly the best example. We liked talking about it better.
"We had a tin roof in Louisiana. Ahh, the rain on the roof made a wonderful sound!" "Did you ever sleep in a tent and her the rain sprinkling down on the canvas?"
I so wish I had brought a recording of rain so we could have closed our eyes and imagined being somewhere else. But the sound of rain might have put us to sleep anyway.
More Music About Rain
Luckily I did have more recorded music, which is always a good way to keep a group from nodding. I was surprised at how many recognized and sang along with "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head". And many jumped in to chant along with "The Rain in Spain Falls..." But the most surprising reactions were to the song, "Stormy Weather". That song isn't from my era, but it clearly sparked memories for many.
I watched smiles and sighs and swaying bodies. My dear friend Martha closed her eyes and lifted her chin to absorb the music. She smiled and her lips moved with the words. I wanted so badly to ask her what the song reminded her of. But she didn't need my intrusion. She was happily being transported to another time.
What Did I Learn? I feel a little guilty to have enjoyed a rain theme when there were so many Houstonians affected by the flooding. There was at least one nursing home in the area that was evacuated. But these folks have all earned their right to enjoy their world. I learned how easy it is to ignore the news for a bit and focus on the good of rain.
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.