After two difficult days, my skies lightened today and the sun streamed into the living room - along with three delightful children. Karena (sp?), Ashlan and Brita Genzlinger, came to Squirrel Haven this afternoon for a couple hours of gift crafting for Father's Day (they are Keith and Maret Taylor Genzlinger's 3 younger children - around 8, 6 and 5, I think).
Elsa learned at Mim's knee the knack for doing projects with children. Every month she offers a free craft evening. And she is doing a special one for the Genzlinger's, mainly because Maret let her know they'd like it. She took the day off so that they could come this afternoon to be free for a puppet show tonight and the last part of a concert their Dad (who is a driving force behind Sons of Art) held on the Pendleton Hall steps.
When Maret dropped them off at 2:00 p.m., I thought I would stick around for a bit, then head up to my nap. Fat chance. Those children were a special delight. I could not tear myself away.
It is rare to see children of different ages work so well together. It was not teamwork, more an example of respecting each other. In one project they did, Ashlan had an idea for decorating something with an "A" on the bottom and a "K" on the top; Karena thought that was a grand idea and was going to do the same with two "K"s - then caught herself, without so much as a single downcast look from her brother, and said, "No, it was Ashlan's idea - I'll do something else." That is unusual, at any age.
There was a lot of activity, from start to finish, but it never felt "busy", if you know what I mean. No one got out of sorts or seemed competitive. THE FOLLOWING IS CONFIDENTIAL FROM KEITH - but you would already guessed that. Elsa had baked and cut out a T-shirt cake. When the children came, they made the icing together. When asked what color they wanted the T-shirt, they answered, "Striped!" That is one reason Elsa leaves a lot of specifics open, to be decided by the children. They come up with ideas she would NEVER have thought of. Like a striped T-shirt.
Did I mention that before they made the icing, the children decorated the white cardboard cake base, which offered about 2-3" of space around the cake? They worked on that on the living room coffee table, right where I sit in the big chair. It was so much fun to watch and it was so colorful.
Back in the kitchen, each child was responsible for blending a color and Elsa applied the stripes, which were tricky. When the entire "shirt" was done - blue and green stripes with a yellow band at the "collar" and ends of the short sleeves - each child chose a tube of decorator icing - orange, red and lavender - and decorated the "shirt"
Then they hoofed it back to the living room. where they decorated a 14" x 18" x 5" "shirt" box (cake box) with a bright and bold "Happy Father's Day," a landscape with a happy boy, a sun (with sunglasses!) and walking hearts.
Then it was back to the kitchen island to make Postette pad holders. They looked wonderful and had just the right touch of practical for Father's Day presents.
As they finished up, Maret arrived. The children very reluctantly let her see the cake - they really and truly wanted her to wait until Sunday. They were three tired, but happy children who headed out the door.
It was especially nice to have the children today. It was nice to have guests take one last look at the spring tree before the bunnies, butterflies, cards et al come down. All we really have for the summer tree at this point is the pink dragonfly for the top. John wants to make paper ice cream cones, Elsa is hot gluing ribbons onto sea shells to dangle from the branches and I have instructed them to buy American flags. Oh, and we have some bees on long pieces of wire to take the place of the butterflies. We have asked friends to send us postcards from their summer travels or far away places, with or without strange sounding names (to Kay or John & Elsa or Lockphy Murpharts - Box 165 - Bryn Athyn, Pa 19009) or contribute American flags (Old Glory), things that bring "vacation" to mind and/or sea shells for this season's tree.
Anyway, it was nice that it had one last moment in the sun. Diane Alden Coffin was doing her best yesterday to persuade us to leave it up indefinitely, she loves it so much. But the summer solistice is coming and it is time to move along.