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Easing the Journey Through Shadow & Light

  • Dawn

Up the Ladder and Down the Wall

Anti-Anxiety Tool of the Week: Coloring

No need for fancy or expensive coloring books (though they can certainly be fun). You can create your own designs to color by simply holding two pens or pencils in your hand and swooping around your paper, turning your hand in different directions, make ribbons and/or various abstract shapes. Then color whatever areas you want. Among other things, it’s the steady, gentle back and forth motion of coloring that can be so calming, engaging your mind just enough to take it off your worries.

Up the Ladder and Down the Wall

Over the past week I stumbled across three short pieces of writing which, separately, were just cute, or quaint, or nostalgic. But reading or remembering them within a few days of each other, I noticed some other things that made me ponder.

The first item showed up in a book of word-seek puzzles, of all places. You know, those grids with words hidden vertically, horizontally, forwards, backwards etc. The words you were supposed to find were all from a nursery rhyme I had never seen before. Attributed to "Mother Goose" in the puzzle, it seems to have origins in early 18th century England.

Girls and boys, come out to play,

The moon doth shine as bright as day.

Leave your supper, and leave your sleep,

And come with your playfellows

into the street.

Come with a whoop, come with a call,

Come with a good will or not at all.

Up the ladder and down the wall,

A halfpenny roll will serve us all;

You find milk and I'll find flour,

And we'll have a pudding in half-an-hour.

That reminded me of the second one--a rhythmic hand-clapping, pattycake-like song we used to sing when I was a child. We knew it was archaic even back then but it was still fun. Did I learn it from my mom? In Girl Scouts? Apparently it too has been around for a long, long time, so you might know a slightly different version.

Oh little playmate, come out and play with me,

And bring your dollies three, Climb up my apple tree, Shout down my rain barrel, Slide down my cellar door, And we’ll be jolly friends


The third was from a book, Betsy In Spite of Herself, that I had picked up at a yard sale, then pulled off my shelf one evening recently when I was looking for something "different" to read. Originally published in 1946, it is part of the "Betsy and Tacy" series, written by Maud Hart Lovelace (which I did not read as a child, by the way). The series is based to a significant degree on Lovelace's childhood and adolescence in Mankato, Minnesota during the late 1890s and early 1900s. The following scene take's place in Betsy's living room and is typical of the way she spends her time with her high school friends in the evening.

"I can't, I can't stay," Cab kept murmuring, but he stayed.

Arms locked, the Crowd sang around the piano. When Julia started “Waltz Me Around the Room Again, Willie,” Tony flipped back the rug and asked Betsy to dance.

Mrs. Ray's curly head popped over the banister. "Pardon me for mentioning it, but isn't tomorrow a school day?"....

"We made fudge, Mrs. Ray. Can we stay to eat it?"

“Eat it in a hurry, and go home,” said Mrs. Ray, and smiled, and disappeared.

This "Crowd" goes on picnics, and occasionally takes carriage or horseback rides around town. Sometimes they read books; sometimes they even talk about books with each other. Like modern adolescents they tease and flirt and laugh, talking about teachers and friends, and though they occasionally go to a theater to see a movie, they usually provide their own entertainment.

And there--I've just given it away. These kids are all doing things. They are physically active, or making things like fudge or pudding. Their play revolves around items at hand like ladders, walls, apples trees, pianos and rain barrels (which might make good echo chambers if you shouted into them) or slanted cellar doors, like the ones Dorothy tries to open as the cyclone is approaching in The Wizard of Oz.

None of them have TVs or smart phones or even radios--they hadn't been invented yet--so they are not sitting around waiting for someone else to entertain them. And though all of the situations appear to be more or less middle class, none of the entertainments cost much, if any, money. And they are doing these things together.

It all sounds like a lot of fun to me. Of course times have changed, and of course some of us are still leery of close social contact after what we've been through. And of course many of us are well past childhood and adolescence.

Still, what can we learn from these kids? And what can we pass on?

Think about it.

Until next time,




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