When the parents gathered during a Spring Break in 2005 to implement Phase I of our playground renovation, they could not foresee all the loveliness that would roll out over the years. How could they? Phase I included the use of a backhoe and a Bobcat! Their primary focus was to complete the job at hand in the few days they had while school was closed for the break. This large machinery was necessary to shape what would become the sandpit and to move three boulders into place. The boulders themselves were heaved into the backyard using ancient technology of skids and levers, though. The sandpit itself has stood the test of time in regards to its original plan -- an intricately engineered design featuring a three foot deep hole edged with pond-edging material, with two deep-drainage holes, and then filled with sand carefully selected sand. For many years, one of the alumni dads would come back to the school during the summer months and water it to address the possibility of aerated silica. All of this shouts "much love" in a pay-it-forward way, because many of the parents who worked on this project would only be at the school for only another couple of months, meaning that their children would play on the new playground using its new features only until the end of that school year.
The sandpit and the dirt moved from the pit that created what we call, "The Berm" are the focal points of our playground. The sandpit serves as a gathering place for so much play and now, many years after its construction, revealing the underlying structure of the pit has become a rite of passage for our oldest age group, the Tracks. At some point in the year, they will "discover" the "black edge" of the sandpit. Following this discovery, they will find "white sand" and "clay" along with all "Baba Yaga hair" (the fine, but gnarled, roots of surrounding trees that have made their way past the pond edging material). They, inevitably all agree to begin to find the bottom of the sandpit.
This is the gift that the parents gave these children that they have never met and these children are now revisiting the history of that giving, shovel-full by shovel-full.