Sometimes my play begins with a prompt - a tiny invitation to play. The other day it came in the form of scarlet elf cap fungus.
As soon as I started spotting those brilliant red bowls, so bright and cheery on a forest floor of rusty brown leaves, I knew it was time to build a fairy house. How could I not?
I’m trying to listen to that quiet, intuitive voice inside of me lately and just run with ideas - especially when they involve a creative response to what is happening in the world right now. Because I think the world needs more fairy houses right now. Probably always will.
I scoured the ground for details and beauty: abandoned snail shells, turkey tail fungus, feathery moss, tiny maple keys, Y-shaped sticks, a bark roof.
The following week I returned to that same spot, and added a welcome sign and cottage banner. And then I waited…
Then I passed on the scarlet elf cap invitation to my children and nieces and nephews.
One made a fairy house in her backyard with a welcome sign that said “FARES,” and featured painted with glow-in-the-dark paint so the fairies could find their way in the dark. She also added a pool and a slide.
Two made a house around a stump in my parents’ bush, adding mossy slides, autumn seeds, rock steps and elaborate entryways with fabulous features like feathers, fungus, and ferns.
Another two made a fairy house in the forest by their garden, finding old gourds from last year’s compost heap and using them as inspiration. Their mom showed them how they could hammer nails and balance small sticks to make a ladder, and they took that teaching and used it in their creation.
Designing, hammering, painting, imagining, persisting, brainstorming, negotiating, connecting, scaffolding learning through play and creation - these small worlds house many hopes and dreams. When I allowed myself space and time to "go with the flow," my monkey mind was put aside and my left brain got a vacation. That dull ache subsided, and time flew by.
Tiny invitations to play can come to us in this in-between time - through scarlet elf cap fungus or an aunt’s text message or just a nudge felt inside. School is closed, but imagination is open; creativity abounds.
Hammers, Huge Swings, and the Freedom to Play