catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 10, Num 8 :: 2011.04.22 — 2011.05.05


Generations of ice

The sun glistened off the snow while my three-year-old grandson was stomping bits of ice on the sidewalk and shoveling the leftovers down the path.  As he pushed his plastic shovel into a pool of water, large sheets of ice, like glass, appeared.  He picked up a wafer with un-mittened fingers, held it to his face and peered at a melting, dripping world. It shattered when he dropped it.  “Ooh!  Cold!”  But he bent down and picked up another piece.

Memories, smells and sensations came flooding back; I remember going to school in a spring jacket, shivering because the sun hadn’t warmed the air enough to make the coat appropriate. Little groups of girls walked arm in arm around the playground, waiting for the school bell and breaking the frosty edges on the puddles.  Sometimes the toes of our boots followed little trails, sometimes the crystal sheet would just cave in, sometimes the mass cracked and brown water oozed through. We were held in the fascination of changing what was already fragile, the uncertainty of what would happen when you acted and the impending danger of a boot.  We reveled in the joy of a world of crystal, precarious in the strengthening sun and rising temperatures.

I know my mother and her siblings played in and around the puddles on the family farm when they were young and our Dutch great-great-great-grandfathers and mothers probably did the same thing along the canals in Holland.  Where there is ice that melts, whether in Canada, China, Norway or Chile — children play with the ice in puddles.

There are millions of families in the world, millions of ideas on how to raise children.  Millions of reasons to have them. Thousands of books and internet articles offer support and advise on when to discipline them, what to feed them and how to dress them. Ideas vary on screen time, DVD players in vehicles, programmed phonic lessons, organic fruit, schools, cradles, time out chairs.  The confusion, the demands and the opportunities for guilt wash over the parental populations.

Yet, put a child, any child, from any country, any time, any age near a puddle during the spring melt and they will play with the ice.  No theories of development need to be touted; no educational prompting needed. Just chilly air, a warming sun and a frozen puddle. Rubber boots are suggested, but not necessary. In a child’s life there are countless important decisions to be made, but sometimes we should just take a break and let creation do what it does best: provide wonder.

Non-programmed, un-sterilized, come-what-may wonder.

Put your rubber boots on, too.

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