By Pamela Noel
Special to Plumas News
She was eight years old, donned in brightly colored balloon prints on her capris. She wore flip flops as much as possible, if not bare-footed during spring and summer. Living at the local swimming pool, she resembled a seed pod, thin, brown, tanned by the sun.
Free to roam after her morning chore list was completed, she made the most of her time, wandering through the local oak covered cemetery. Less than a block from her house, this was her home away from home until the swimming pool opened—another half block from where she lived.
An active little girl, she loved hiding from her kitty, by making a nest in the tall grasses of the back lot. Holding her breath, so that Pepper, (the cat) wouldn’t discover her, the cat always was able to stalk and find her. Allowed very little access to television, she found her inspiration outside, carrying her imagination into the weeds, the trees, and the granite gravestones.
One morning she found a treasure trove of “chalk” in the soil by the side of the garage. Feeling rich with this find, she now had a seemingly unending supply of chalk, buried beneath the leaves, covering a 4-foot by 3-foot area. After she brushed away the soil and leaves to expose the size of the trove, she quickly covered it back up so that it would remain her hidden secret.
Breaking off a piece of “chalk”, she ventured onto the large circular “macadam” driveway and began drawing. She drew everything—hop scotch patterns she and her brother could play, two-square courts, pictures of dragons and butterflies, and portraits of all the neighborhood animals. Ecstatically, she covered the large area with pictures of all things dear to her.
Soon, her 6-year old brother joined her, spending the rest of the afternoon drawing and jumping, and playing two-square amongst their drawings.
Around 4 pm, their father came into the driveway, circling through in his blue and white 1956 oldsmobile. Slowly opening the door, he stood there for a moment, trying to take in the total chalk explosion that had spread itself, covering his driveway. Wondering aloud what had happened while he was gone, the girl responded excitedly holding up the chalk, telling him how she had discovered this secret treasure behind the garage. Taking his hand she led him around the side, uncovering the “chalk” so that he could see for himself.
If another observer had been there, she would have seen the confusion on his face. On one hand, the fact of this chalky scrawl was not his chosen aesthetic for his garden. As a landscape architect, this was his showplace for clients. On the other hand, he couldn’t help but share in the excitement of his child, using her discovery in a creative and unique way.
In a time when our children have so much to engage them, as well as distract them, we can remember back to the memory our own childhoods when the simplest of implements and materials could become the clay of our childhood masterpieces. We didn’t need the amazing smorgasboard of online, screen provided, plastic-built entertainment we now have. Kites were made out of newspapers and string; Paper dolls were cut from homemakers’ magazines; kids started their own grocery stores by cutting out cans of beans and corn and other pictures from magazines, arranging them on their own make believe shelves.
I am not suggesting that we all return to the “good old days,” turning our backs on what is current and helpful. I am however, wanting to take a look at what we can “turn off” for a while, in order to venture outside, awaken the imagination, and discover the “sheet rock chalk,” or other hidden treasure that may be buried in the backyard. And maybe, by feeling the sun, the spring breezes of fresh air, we might discover a lot more treasure buried within ourselves.