Friday, June 5, 2009

Child's Play

As we drove out for an evening's forage for felt, wooden spoons, yarn and other supplies for my summer library programs, we passed a meadow filled with daisies in bloom.

Larry mentioned pulling daisy petals and chanting, "she loves me, she loves me not..."

"Did you ever do that?" he asked.

Of course I did. So have probably most of the children who live where daisies grow. Larry remembered how hard he tried to make it end on "she loves me." Even if it meant pulling two petals at once.

That memory got us thinking about other things we did with flowers, grass, leaves and stems in our games and play when we were young. I wonder if children are still doing these things today?

Things like:
  • pulling the honesysuckle middle out to get the sweet drop of honey inside blowing dandelion seeds into the wind
  • "shooting" the heads of seedheads of English plantain by looping the stem around the head and pulling back quickly so the seedhead went flying making a whistle with a piece of grass or a leaf
  • making a whistle with hollowed out pawpaw, elderberry or sumac branches using pokeberries and a piece of grass for pen and ink
  • putting buttercups under your chin--if it reflects, you like butter!
  • making lemonade with sumac berries
  • searching for four-leaf clover
  • making daisy chains and grass wreaths
  • putting Queen Anne's Lace into a glass of water with food coloring to make it turn blue or pink
  • touching the seedpods of balsam (also called touch-me-not) to see the pod burst and scatter seeds everywhere.
  • making earrings with jewelweed flowers

What kinds of games did you do play with plants and flowers when you were young? I know I've missed some in my list. It's oddly satisfying to remember all the things we did for fun when we were kids that required only a piece of grass, a seed or a flower.

15 comments:

Mimi/Irma said...

Hi Granny Sue, We used to braid clover when it was tall and hadn't been mowed yet. We made coronets of them.

Another activity that comes to mind probably because the larkspur I planted last fall came up with strength and has started to bloom; We would pinch the center of the flower from its backside and make its "ears" move like a bunny's.

And with hollyhocks, we would turn a fully blooming one upside down, find at its base (now the top of the "skirt") little slits that with a little help would open farther; then we'd insert a hollyhock bud with at least one inch of stem into that slit, and we'd have a hollyhock doll.

By the way, the larkspur seed was sent to me by my closest childhood friend who still lives in northern Indiana where I grew up. I've had no success planting it in the spring, so she suggested I try planting it in the fall, and EUREKA! I have a larkspur patch this summer. I'll post a photo on my blog soon.

Rowan said...

I remember a lot of the ones you mention, my favourite was always making daisychains for necklaces and bracelets. I used to put rose petals in water to make 'rosewater' too, never very successful I'm afraid. I was showing my little granddaughter how to blow the seedheads of dandelions to 'tell the time' only a couple of weeks ago and I shall show her how to make daisy chains when her little fingers are deft enough to do it - maybe next summer. I'd better get some practice in - it's years since I last made one.

Granny Sue said...

Mimi, I never made a hollyhock doll. This year I will have hollyhocks for the first time, so I might try this with one of my younger granddaughters. We had hollyhocks when I was a girl, and I've always wanted them. I can't wait for mine to bloom.

Good idea about the larkspur! Fall planting sounds like the way to go.

Granny Sue said...

Telling the time with a dandelion? How do you do that, Rowan? I've never heard that before.

Your granddaughter is lucky to have a granny willing to play these games with her.

Twisted Fencepost said...

All of those things!
How about taking a giant sycamore or poplar leaf and making a cup. By pulling off the stem, rolling the leaf into a cone shape and then pushing the stem through to hold it in place?

Matthew Burns said...

I remember doing all these things, only for us, of your chin showed up yellow during the buttercup trick, that meant that you were stealing your mothers sugar!

Also, do you remember sneaking off and smoking the dried stems of goldenrod or pretty much any other weed that had a hollowed out center when it dried. Oh, the acrid stench burnt your eyes and throat but we kept doing it.

Also, and not to incriminate myself with smoking, but we used to also smoke the "cigars" off of catalpa tree's. They were like cigars but kind of made you light-headed. Some of the older kids said it was almost like getting high. Never did that one too much.

Oh, the fun you can have with plants. I still love making grass whistles!

Matthew

Anonymous said...

We made lovely jewelery out of those velvet seedpods from wisteria vines.--Jane

Rowan said...

The 'dandelion clocks' are a tad unreliable I'm afraid:) You count how many times you have to blow to remove all the seeds and that's what time it is! A lot depends on how ripe the seeds are of course!

Susan at Stony River said...

What memories--I did many of the same! I also remember spending the longest time lying in clover patches, looking and looking for a four-leaf one.

Granny Sue said...

Matthew, I never tried smoking anything--cigarette, cigar, weed (of any variety) or flowers. I guess I wasn't so adventurous--although I do remember when my sons tried to smoke the tobacco we grew. Unprocessed tobacco is mighty tough!

Jane, I have never heard of making jewlelry with wisteria. I can imagine it, though. Kids think of the most amazing things.

Granny Sue said...

TF, you came up with another thing I have never tried. Making a cup out of a leaf? I need to try that. We only have one sycamore tree and i've never understood why it's here, so far from a stream. I may need to go down the road to find the right leaves.

Susan, did you also lie on your back looking up at the sky, watching clouds and picking out shapes, or trying to feel the world turning under you? I remember spending a lot of time doing that when we looked for four-leaf clovers. I remember it being the most restful feeling, lying there talking to my sisters and watching the sky.

Janet, said...

Well, when I was growing up the kids used to tear a piece of a brown bag and roll up the brown silk of corn in it and smoke it.We made what we called grasshopper seats with the seedheads of plantain. We used to get these large leaves, I forget which kind, make a fist and lay the leaf on top and hit it with our other hand and the leaf would crack open and make a loud popping noise. And of course, we would take a blade of grass between our hands and put to our mouth and blow and it would make a whistling noise. It didn't take much to amuse us kids back then, did it?

Marilyn said...

Two things I remember:

Making puppets out of snapdragon flowers.

Watching the spiral seeds of filaree--also called "storkbill." We used to call them "clocks," because the seeds would wind up tighter and tighter, looking like clock springs. We pretended that you could tell time with them--just how exactly, I'm not sure.

Granny Sue said...

I had not heard of that before either, Janet. Grasshopper seats! How did you make them? I have a vague memory of popping leaves too--seems like they were maple leaves, or poplar, maybe?

Marilyn, how would you make puppets out of snapdragons? That's new to me too. I can see how the flowers might look like a skirt, upside down--what was the top? Or did you ise the buds?

Janet, said...

Susanne, I'm not sure if I remember how we made them or not, I can still see in my mind what they looked like. I remember Mom showing me how to do it, so she must have did it when she was a child. I think they were called grasshopper chairs now that I think about it. If I can find some outside, I'll see if I can remember how to do it and take a picture.

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