Years ago I took my daughter to Seattle, the place she was conceived, to visit someplace big and new to her. We stayed with my longest, dearest friend Kim while we tooled around the city. One day we went to Alki Point to the beach. Pacific Northwest beaches aren’t your typical tropical sandy heavens. They are craggy, full of rocks and driftwood, and razor sharp shell pieces. Alki Point is no exception so it was hard for my then 8 year old to enjoy it like she would if we would have gone to Florida. But we made due.
I surveyed the landscape and noticed there was an opportunity to create something from nothing. At the time, she loved Spongebob Squarepants so I decided to have her help me build a ship that she could captain. It became a scavenger hunt. We needed seaweed for a flag, items for the galley, a captain’s chair etc. We spent the afternoon searching and building. Mother and daughter creating something from things just left about. Then we played.
As she has gotten older it seems she is much more likely to want to be on the computer than to hang out with her “old” mom making stuff from nothing. But today we had to do it again for a science fair project. We make experiments from boxes, stacks of books and the couch. We laughed. We made models of the experiments from leftover cereal boxes and paint. It was a good afternoon.
I realized these times are special even if they disguise themselves as work or parenting. I also realized that my true artistic gift that I have been honing over the years is the ability to create art and structures from “junk”. The ability to re-purpose an item brings me so much joy and this has not changed since I was a little girl. Maybe it is the discovery that an object labeled for one use has many secret uses? Maybe it is the rush I get from ingenuity coursing through my veins? I’m not sure exactly how to pin it down, but I know it never ceases to make me smile.