Well, it’s official. School is out. And at our house, that means our precious granddaughter, Jaycie, comes to stay for her first week of summer vacation. We really live for this time because there are so few opportunities for her to stay over during the school year. While she only lives an hour away, it seems the older she gets, the busier she gets with pets, chores, dance classes, girl scouts, and so forth. Though we frequently speak on the phone, it’s simply not the same as having her beside us. When she is here, we can memorize her facial expressions and beautiful chestnut color hair. We can see the bright light in her crystal blue eyes. And we can feel the electricity in the air from her endless energy.
I think both Tom and I are different people when Jaycie comes to stay. We become excited kids again, going for hikes in the woods, discovering plants, rocks, and animals. We invent games, eat anything we want, stay up late watching movies, craft together, joke, and just bask in each other’s love. We’ve cherished watching her grow from that inquisitive infant that would crawl into the kitchen cabinets, and dump out all of my pots and pans, to the brilliant little ten year old she is now. She can tease, show sarcasm, make up big fantasy stories, and report on all the facts she’s learned from watching David Attenborough nature documentaries. She’s still a sweet and precocious little girl but on the cusp of being a savvy and determined teenager ready to take on the world. She is in that in-between stage where she still believes in magic and yet knows that sometimes life can become dark and scary, especially this last year with the trials of Covid-19.
On one day of her visit, we went through various projects that I discovered on Pinterest. Having a grandchild is the perfect excuse to explore some simple crafts that you wouldn’t usually see a 61-year -old woman doing. We learned about making nature mandalas, “nature crowns,” and “nature bracelets” and made dragonflies from maple seeds. First, we started with an early morning walk to the park just a block away. We brought along a plastic bag for collecting interesting leaves, flowers, and sticks and tried to find as many diversely shaped and colored specimens as possible. Along the way, we stopped for some birdwatching and to investigate a creek.
Back home, we dumped out our treasures and picked our favorite things for making into mandalas. Our intention was to make the mandalas on the front lawn, leaving them for passersby to enjoy as they walked or drove by our house. Because we live near the park, we see a good deal of foot traffic past our house, as an endless stream of walkers, with and without dogs, and families on bikes, head for the public greenspace. We were sure they would love our mandalas, which more or less are art for art’s sake and made as temporary creations to enjoy for the day. But sadly, by the time we got back from our walk, it began to rain, so our mandalas had to grace the dining room table. We both became so quiet while making these and later remarked how relaxing and enjoyable it had been to create them.
Next, we moved onto “nature crowns” and “nature bracelets. Admittedly we both are too old for such activities. Yet, we had fun pretending we were wild women from the woods crafting our regalia. It’s good, no matter how old you are, to remember how wonderful a playful child-like imagination can feel. To make these crafts, all you need is scissors, cardstock, double stick tape, and an assortment of flowers and leaves.
Then lastly, we made the dragonflies from the maple seeds that littered my backyard. We painted the seeds happy pastel colors, then glued them to sticks to make dragonfly bodies. We made dragonflies perch on house plants, placed them on sticks in bouquets, and glued some onto paper in collages.
Before you know it, lunchtime had come. Our morning ended, leaving us deeply satisfied with the entire process of going for a walk, seeking nature treasures, and making wonderful creations to celebrate our special time together. I think Jaycie enjoyed herself, and I know it was good medicine for me. Our dear girl has gone back home now. Still, the maple seed dragonfly perched on one of my succulent plants continues to make me smile. And I look forward to new adventures and each sacred second of her next visit.