Thursday, November 28, 2013

Fall Leaf Creatures

The inevitable email I get from the kindergarten teacher asking parents to send in empty toilet paper rolls turns my stomach every time. Quite frankly, my youngest ones haven't exactly gotten wiping down to a hygienic science yet and I'm pretty sure it's the same story with all their happy-go-lucky cohorts. So while I'm all for recycling-bin crafts, I'll pass on giving anything from my kids' bathroom a second life. Yuck.

Instead, we use empty paper towel rolls, trimmed to size, for our fall leaf creatures. It's a huge event for Halle. She spends weeks collecting nature's whatnots- twigs, tiny hemlock cones, and "helicopters."

"Look, Mom! Look at what I found for our leaf creatures this year!"

The outside world steadily trickles through our front door, sometimes left to break down into a sort of organic litter on my desk.

We wait for a dry windy day to blow down lots of leaves that aren't quite crispy and still have lots of color left.

"'s a pretty red one! Look, there's a whole bunch of them over here!"

We gather more than enough and head back inside. Fall scatters across our kitchen table.

We sort. We try this leaf and then that one. We glue.

This year Halle lined up all the creatures. She studied them, then looked around for how she could round out the scene. She added leaves, stood back, then started stacking rocks in the foreground.

I sat there silently, impressed with how she thought about her composition.

Her eyes narrowed; it was clear she wasn't quite satisfied.

"I know!"

She reached for the unused empty paper towel rolls and placed them carefully in the background, adding depth.

If Halle's intuitive sense of composition someday lands her a chapter in "America's 50 Greatest Artists,"  I can expect at least a paragraph on the leaf creatures she made every year with her mom.


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