Stories 'round the Campfire

It's Winter here. The temperatures in the middle of the week wouldn't have told you that. The water collected in the tarp was warm from the sun and the children were in short sleeves, splashing away.

The rain kept up and on Friday, the temperatures dropped. The cold rain and misty air made it feel even colder than it was and it was indeed cold. The jackets came back on and even though the "rain pit" was still an attraction for scooping and as ingredients for cakes and stews it was no longer a deep splash pool. The rainwater got that cold.

Time for a campfire. We have wood tucked up under the eaves and it was thankfully dry. Andrea got the fire going quickly. The children gathered, not caring about the wet and muddy seating. The fire was so pretty on this cloudy day it glowed against the dark rain drenched logs.

"Tell us a story."

I happened to be reading, The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey which is an adult fairy tale inspired by the children's fairy tale of the same name. I told the children gathered bits and pieces of that story. 

"Once upon a time, there was an old man and old woman. They lived in the wilds of Alaska, trying to build a farm. They had no children. One night when it snowed, they went outside and as the snow fell, they played and laughed in the snow, and built a child from snow."

"That's me! I'm the snow child," one of the children shouted. 

"I'm her! I am the snow child! I run and run over the snow and never fall, because I am so brave."

"I'm her! I am the snow child! I run and run over the snow and never fall, because I am so brave."

If you work with children (or have children), there are always those moments of pure and unexpected joy. As I added each sentence, each detail to the story, this little one piped in with confirmation...she really can run on snow and never slip, she really is a snow child, she has red mittens, too! I mean it was really joyous, this buy-in. But then we got to the part about how if the child got too warm, sat too close to the fire, the woman in the story could surely see the snow child beginning to melt.

That was too much for our own snow child. She zipped off and away from our cozy campfire back to the rain puddles where she could stay cold and unmelted. Once she moved away one of the other children said, "Next time. There should be another season. Let's call it 'season four' and in that season there will be a snow child that will be a boy and that boy will be me." And then he scooted off as well. That new story now sorted for some future telling.

On these cold days, the children don't sit for a long time at the fire. The children get on with the work of their day, their play. Today, there was such joy in the air. From the telling of the story and the echo of the story in its telling. You never know how stories will "take." But as the children moved away to get on with their play, the story echoes could be seen and heard.

The snow bird nest.

There needed to be a nest. Doesn't that happen a lot? This nest was for the snow birds and the nest had to be cozy. I really like how the sopping wet blankets and fabrics we have around the yard are determined to be "just the thing" the children need to keep the snow birds safe and sound. Shouts and running feet moved across the play yard looking for the snow bird golf ball-eggs.

The snow birds needed so much care! They need to be fed!

As the hours rolled on and the fresh air filled their lungs, the children themselves became hungry. We usually cook over the campfire, but since this was a last-minute addition to the day, we had to get creative. I had some left-over naan a parent had brought me earlier in the week. We toasted it over the fire, added a bit of honey. 

The children gathered again, like moths to the flame, ate and then flew off again.

Snow birds and snow children with another story in their hearts and sweet warmth in their bellies.