Rainy in Texas!
On May 18th, I decided to embrace our wet spring with a theme of Rain and Wind. I lugged in some weather related props to share with the Quilt groups and got ready to enjoy rain memories. The very idea seemed to make the rain disappear for a couple days. Not a drop fell during any of my Quilt groups.
Creating Rain Sounds
But we made our own rain sounds with a "rain stick" and the "rainforest drum". A few made the sounds of a light rain with their finger tips on the drum. Others went for the sounds of rolling thunder, pounding with palms. Marie reminded us that drums were used in many cultures to bring rain during droughts. We thought about doing a rain dance, but decided we didn't really need more rain.
I had a few toy umbrellas to prompt some umbrella memories. We pictured Gene Kelly dancing with an umbrella and we listed all the uses for an umbrella... like shielding from sun or wind, or catching rainwater or using an umbrella as a cane.
Ramona thought a pointy umbrella was great tool for protection. "You can use it like a sword or baseball bat, if anyone bothers you!"
There were a few memories shared about umbrellas, but the sweetest came from Adele. "I used to open my bedroom window when it was raining and I'd put my pillow on the windowsill. I'd prop up my umbrella over the sill and rest my head on the pillow, where I could listen to the sound of the rain."
Rain in Music and Movies
Everyone recognized "Singin' in the Rain" and most sang along. Sleepy Margaret had been nodding off just a bit, but came to life when the music started up. She twirled one of the tiny umbrellas and sang along!
Just a few remembered the the Hepburn and Lancaster movie, "The Rainmaker". I played a recording of the musical version, where a conman called Starbuck claims he can make rain with magic words and a hickory stick... for 100 dollars. It was fun to see the group lean in to hear the story/song that I remembered loving as a child. We chuckled at the singer's bold voice, vowing his rain would cause the rivers to overflow... and make the dying cattle would rise up, again!
I brought along a pink cloud pillow that I made years ago for a game with kids. I had no idea it would end up being so useful.
The first group I met with had the energy of a grade school classroom on a stormy day. It was sunny outside, but they had an electric enthusiasm that was delightful, but noisy! Everyone had a story to tell and there were too many voices talking at once. I had to grab the cloud. "Put it over your head, Adele!" I laughed. "Everyone will know it's your turn to talk." We knew it was childish and silly, but it gave each their own turn to speak.
My very last group is always smaller and more intimate. We passed the cloud and each told something they liked about rain. "The smell!" said Rose. "Especially when it hasn't rained in a while and you can smell the moist earth!"
Donnie had a hard time coming up with anything positive. She had a memory of a bolt of lightning coming straight through the front door and out through the window. She said she hates rain and storms now... but she is glad that she's here, to tell her story.
I so wish I'd had an old pair of galoshes or rubber boots with buckles to share. Or a yellow rain slicker or even a poncho. But I did dig up a few dolls with rain related outfits.
Most recognized Mary Poppins and I asked if anyone had childhood memories of leaping off porches or chairs with umbrellas in hopes of being lifted into the sky. I was the only one. I guess my generation was the most impressed by the 1964 movie which made us all want to fly with umbrellas!
We didn't just talk rain, we talked about wind. We listed all the ways we can tell it's windy, from trees and windmills blowing, to hair and skirts... to laundry on a line.
I asked what wind is good for and Margie lit up! She threw back her head as if recalling an image of her brother with his kite, stuck in a tree. I wish I had a film of her expressive hands and face as she recalled every detail of the kite rescue story!
Wind in the Room
We made our own wind when we blew on a tiny pinwheel. Margaret had the best technique as she rotated the tiny stick to the proper angle. Then we used a paper fan and took turns stirring up the air in the room. That wasn't so exciting till I blew bubbles into the room and everyone tried to perfect their fanning technique to keep the bubbles from coming down. Mostly we did a lot of laughing.
Oddly enough the thought of floods never came up with any my groups. However, images of floods have been on my mind ever since.
However, shortly after enjoying this fun weather theme, I headed off on a camping trip with family. I've just spent 2 weeks traveling Texas, dodging floods and tornadoes. Communities have been devastated in our area. We've been lucky, but others have not. It seems odd to suddenly revisit these photos of my groups, laughing and singing and teasing about rain, just days before the subject became serious.
What Did I Learn?
There's a drama to weather that makes for an intriguing theme. You can't control it and maybe that's why we're all a little in awe of it. Weather stirs up the air, but it also stirs up emotions... good and bad.
What Else Did I Learn?
A rainbow is such a positive image and symbol. It seemed fitting to end my last group, with a discussion on rainbows. It also seemed fitting to play Judy Garland, singing Somewhere Over the Rainbow.
Of course I took a risk with that emotional song and I did end up with dear Martha, sniffling. The song made her think of her late husband, Dick. But then we all ended up laughing as we pictured Dick looking down at all of us with our silly umbrella games and songs. We decided he was pretty amused.
So I also learned that rainbows, as whimsical as they seem, have the power to brighten or darken our moods. Weather is serious business and I'm glad we didn't know what was coming our way, 2 weeks ago. It's sunny today as I write on June 1, but it's also the first day of Hurricane Season!
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.