It’s almost time for one of our favorite events, Powder Springs Fall Festival Trunk-or-Treat. On Saturday, October 22nd from 10am-12pm visit us at Thurman Springs Park for games, live music, storytime and trunks full of candy. This event is free to the public and one that we enjoy for so many reasons.
First, it is a chance to meet and serve our community. Membership in a place and kinship with its people is a core value at Sparrow’s Nest Play. We cherish any opportunity we can to share our resources and values with our neighbors. We’ve not yet attended an event downtown where we didn’t have great conversations about the benefits of nature play.
Second, setting up our simple nature play materials so that children and their parents can interact with them together allows parents to be immersed in the act of nature play alongside their child. Many times, watching the fascination with which their child experiences the smallest elements of the natural world delights parents and encourages them to pursue more opportunities for outdoor play opportunities.
Lastly, it’s just fun. It is tough for us to pass up a chance to watch a child’s eyes light up when we play around the campfire, read a book about birds, or build with simple toys. It is a chance to share our love for nature, simple creative play, and kinship with our community. And there is candy.
If you are in the area on Saturday, October 22nd stop by Thurman Springs Park, sit around our “campfire” and drop a line in our creek to go “fishing.” We’d love to play outside with you!
We are more than a little excited to be gearing up for our Nature Play Adventures program which will begin in January at Powder Springs Park. Here is a short preview of what our forest friends will be discovering through play and projects…
Birds in Winter
A fun part of getting to know “our forest” will be cataloging the birds that we observe there. We’ll begin identifying birds by sight and even by call for our running list of birds that live there. We’ll learn about their ideal habitats, as well as that they eat during the winter months. On our project list will be bird feeders – both for home and for “our forest.”
Winter Tree Study
We’ll also get to know our native plants and trees by mapping our forest. It’ll be a little tougher without the leaves to help us identify them, but it’ll be a lot of fun to see if our deductions based on bark and other observations were correct in the Spring when leaves come out! We’ll take some sticks and twigs from our favorites and do some nature weaving this week.
The Winter Sky
Noticing the signs of the seasons will become a daily part of our rhythm, so we’ll begin by taking note of times of sunrise and sunset each day. We’ll review each season’s solstice or eqinox and learn how this affects the length of our days and temperatures. Noting the small changes each day will sharpen our observation skills immeasurably. As we notice that we often have “wet” winters here in our region, we’ll make a rain gauge for our base camp.
Building on our knowledge of weather and seasons, we’ll discuss the phases of the moon. We’ll research the Farmer’s Almanac for moon phases and learn about special moons like “Harvest” and “Blue” moons. We’ll be sure to have lots of books on hand about the moon and it’s phases.
Add to all of this a dash of Outdoor Safety Skills and the splash of ongoing fun that will be getting acquainted with “our forest” and you’ve got a recipe for adventure. Tell a friend about our program while there are still spots available! To register today go to our Registration Page.
I’m an Atlanta native, now living just outside Atlanta. That may seem commonsensical to some readers, but those here in the area might realize how extraordinary I really am. When I completed a degree in 2010, out of 38 people in my cohort, I was the only native. It is more and more rare to find people who live where they grew up. Even now, I reside around half an hour from my town of origin.
Understandably, “Where are you from?” is a regular conversation starter. You can start a great number of conversations and learn quite a lot about someone by beginning that way. Learning where someone is from gives us the opportunity reminisce about a time when we visited that part of the country, or even tell of relatives that live nearby. My husband always finds a fellow “Hoosier” when we are meeting new people.
But for all of the interesting banter this creates, the question I wish we asked is “Where is your place?” Much like the famed (and culturally inappropriate) “Laughin’ Place” of Brer Rabbit from The Tales of Uncle Remus, where is the place where you can be you? Where are you known?
For instance, we don’t venture out as often as we once did, but I can tell you with certainty that Donna at our Waffle House, Gustav at Monterry’s, Kerri at Johnny’s Pizza, and Stephanie at Chili’s all know us. Noah and Jason don’t even order any more. (Because I enjoy more variety, I usually require a little more maintenance.) It is comforting to go places where the staff remember Noah, understand about his autism, and are patient as he works through noise and other stressors during a meal. These are places we are known – they are our places.
We’ve recently come into the habit of spending even more time in our place, which is Powder Springs, Georgia. An amazing local business owner has given Noah a part-time job in his store which specializes in locally made goods, outdoor gear, and rental of bikes and kayaks. It is the coolest place in town and has become a hub of neighbor-love. Noah is now installed there and is a part of that place, as are we.
I had already fallen in love with our local library and linear park, but now I’m finding myself passionate about the people and smaller spaces within this larger place. I’m learning names, learning about the local businesses, and the history of this town. I’m becoming a part of this membership, as Wendell Berry might say.
In his poem, A Poem About Hope and Place, Berry exhorts us to “belong to your place by knowledge of the others who are your neighbors in it…” and in doing so find restoration as you age and struggle to hope.
This knowledge cannot be taken from you by power
Or by wealth. It will stop your ears to the powerful
when they ask for your faith, and to the wealthy
when they ask for your land and your work.
Answer with knowledge of the others who are here
And how to be here with them. By this knowledge
Make the sense you need to make. By it stand
In the dignity of good sense, whatever may follow.
Speak to your fellow humans as your place
Has taught you to speak, as it has spoken to you.
Speak its dialect as your old compatriots spoke it
Before they had heard a radio. Speak
Publicly what cannot be taught or learned in public.
– Wendell Berry, A Poem About Hope and Place
There is much to be spoken in this place – words of hope and inspiration, peace and unity, care and reconciliation. I must learn my neighbor to fulfill that commandment to love them, and in doing so fully love myself. This place can birth that process. It has “birthed” it for my son, a young man with a disability who was unable to get a job with the larger stores like Kroger and Publix because his speech wasn’t clear on a phone interview. Yet, in this place where he is known, his speech impediment hasn’t been an “impediment” at all. It has restored our hope.
As Berry advises, we are founding our hope “on the ground under our feet.” And in doing so, our neighbors and our place have illumined our way.
Found your hope, then, on the ground under your feet.
Your hope of Heaven, let it rest on the ground
Underfoot. Be it lighted by the light that falls
Freely upon it after the darkness of the nights
And the darkness of our ignorance and madness.
Let it be lighted also by the light that is within you,
Which is the light of imagination. By it you see
The likeness of people in other places to yourself
In your place. It lights invariably the need for care
Toward other people, other creatures, in other places
As you would ask them for care toward your place and you.