I wanted to spend some quality time with my kids and their friends on these long summer days. So, I took a break from my attempts to catch up on weeding and found creative inspiration right outside our front door. To mark the changing of the season, we made a “solstice compass”. We harvested some willow, made a cross to represent the 4 directions, and connected the ends of the cross to form a circle (or at least a semblance of a circle). Foraging in the garden, we harvested chamomile, thyme, valerian, penstemon, snapdragons, and verbena to give it some color.
Our small “habitat pond” has been in need of patching—the boys confirmed my theory that throwing bricks into the pond not only made tidal waves for their lego boats, it also ripped the liner. This past week I employed their help to patch up the leak with an old scrap of liner and build up the edge of the pond with rocks. The rocks inspired a session of rock painting, an incredibly easy activity that always keeps them fully engaged.
Since we already had the paints out we moved on to decorating simple terra cotta pots. We have a greenhouse full of starts, and gardens full of the same, but when my kids take the time to decorate and plant their own pots they are suddenly inspired to take ownership of the plants. The same holds true when they help plant the vegetable beds—“Mama, don’t we need to water those baby plants?” You bet! Here’s a watering wand, and in a few week’s time, here’s a hoe.
Our rows of veggies weave in and out of a straight line, and the bearings of our solstice compass are probably way off, but when it comes to having a summer full of outdoor fun we are definitely headed in the right direction.
-Jennifer Ketring, regular contributor