The elementary school playground that I've been working on for the past two years is officially DONE. (Which doesn't mean it is actually done; I am pretty sure I'll be back out there to fix certain "flaws" this summer.) I've never worked on a creative project for this long before, so it's a trip to have it be over. I feel proud of my work and the playful, enriching, curiosity-encouraging environment that work has created for future kindergarteners who come through the school.
We had a little ribbon cutting ceremony last week to formally open the upgraded playground, and since the ceremony coincided with the school's 50th anniversary celebrations, all the kindergarteners were wearing birthday hats and t-shirts in their classroom colors so that all together they were a rainbow. It was pretty much the cutest thing I'd ever seen. The kindergarten teacher who has been my point person throughout the project spoke to the kids about how much the playground has changed from the way it used to be, which of course they had never seen. At one point she was describing the old playground as gray and boring, and said to the kids, "There was no butterfly, and there were no ducks." She started to say something else but one little munchkin piped up, "And there were no worms!" Then another kid said, "And no frogs!" At which point a whole chorus rose up: "No bees!" "No fish!" "No eggs!" "No flowers!" On and on... It was so adorable that the teachers were all laughing, but I couldn't help it, I started to cry behind my sunglasses. All this time I had been painting by myself on the weekends, lost in my own little world, and obviously I knew that the work was all for these children but until that moment I hadn't really gotten it, the extent to which I had been communicating with them. Those worms and fish and roots and frogs had been little love notes for the kids to come find on Monday mornings, having magically appeared like presents from Santa under the tree or money from the tooth fairy under a pillow. Hearing the children shout out what they had noticed and loved, the whole process came full circle. They had gotten my notes. The murals had become a part of their world. Standing there listening to them, I was bowled over by the privilege it had been to create something for them. I'll never forget that moment.
And then the ribbons were cut, and the kids flooded into the playground and did the Locomotion to celebrate. I took a bunch of pictures and felt like the luckiest lady in the world.
Interested in how the whole process happened? Read about when I got the job (On Courage), get a little tour of the blacktop designs (Playground), and see what the murals looked like when they were just sketches on the bricks last summer (Back on the Playground).
with love and butterflies (and ducks! and worms! and fish!),