Living Arts Weekly: Opening

April 29, 2018

We are the opening verse of the opening page of the chapter of endless possibilities.  – Rudyard Kipling

“an act or instance of beginning”
As I write this, my mind is more focused on “ending,” such as, “Will this winter ever end??”  I am stranded in New York City as all flights are cancelled for several days to my hometown of Milwaukee, while friends and family there lament about digging out from the heavy, wet snow and ice that have covered the city (in mid-April!). The still-frozen ground means the fiddlehead ferns pictured here are weeks away from opening. And, yet, open they will. We know that Lady Spring always manages to send King Winter on his way, and this allows us to be patient, to wait, and to be open to what life will bring us. This self-check to remain open encourages me to look beyond all of my foiled to-do lists and embrace my extra day in the city that never sleeps, which is a far cry better than NOT embracing it, right?
In what ways can you be open to what life is bringing you today?
Blessings on your week,
Mary O’Connell, Your Living Arts Weekly Editor

Practical Activity

Spring Cleaning

Linda Thomas, author of Why Cleaning has Meaning, wrote:

“In the Kabbalah, the story of Creation tells us that God withdrew Himself, thus producing a void. The chaos that arose within this void formed the substance from which the world was then created.

In our homes, we very often face chaos. The mere fact that we have countless ways and means in which we can structure our daily lives puts us face to face with chaos. We have the opportunity of purposefully re-establishing order and structure where formlessness and haphazardness have taken over.

When I clean, I do not simply want to remove dirt; I consciously try to create space for something new. Removing dust and dirt results in a void – this void I put at the disposal of helping spiritual beings who are linked to the place I am cleaning, that something new and positive may come about.”

You can read Linda’s entire article here.

There was an old woman tossed up in a basket,
Seventeen times as high as the moon;
Where she was going I could not but ask it,
For in her hand she carried a broom.
“Old woman, old woman, old woman,” quoth I;
“O whither, O whither, O whither so high?”
“To sweep the cobwebs from the sky,
And I’ll be with you by-and-by!”

Homemade Kitchen Cleanser

  • 1 ½ cups baking soda
  • ½ cup environmentally safe liquid laundry soap (unscented)
  • 10 drops essential oil (a blend of two drops each lemon, rosemary, clove, cinnamon and eucalyptus essential oils is especially antiseptic and antibacterial)

Mix baking soda and laundry soap in a bowl, stirring vigorously to combine into a paste. Add essential oils and mix well. Store in an airtight container.

If the mixture begins to dry out, add a small amount of water and mix well.

Nurturing Care

Steamed Fiddleheads

Gather fiddlehead ferns (photo at the top of the blog post) that are tightly coiled and very green.

Remove any of the brown papery husks still on them and wash them.

Steam them in a steamer pot until the fiddleheads have turned a brilliant green, before they begin to dull.

Lift them out. They should be slightly firm but not crisp, and soft in the middle of the coil.

Dry the fiddleheads.

Melt butter, saute a white onion with two or three cloves of crushed garlic, add the fiddleheads, warm it all together and toss with lemon juice.

Creative Exploration

This story comes to us from Pamela Perkins, who has worked with and for children in various capacities since 1970. A former Waldorf teacher, LifeWays graduate and home provider, she now delights in being with her five granddaughters, plus creating magical needle-felted puppet stories and writing gentle tales to nurture young and old. She lives in the Upper Valley of Vermont, and is working on her new writing project Silver Seedlings – Nurturing Tales for the Young and Young at Heart.

The Unlikely Travels of Henrietta and Hector

(continued from last week’s Living Arts Weekly)

Chapter 3: The Cloud Nest

All of a sudden, Henrietta and Hector felt exhausted. They quickly glanced at one another: they were afraid. They knew that they could not fly much longer, and that they were terribly high up in the air. What would they do? Where could they safely land? The mountains behind them looked too high and too far away. The ravines looked too steep and narrow and scary. The tired travelers began to struggle to keep their wings flapping. One of the friendly young sea breezes suddenly noticed what was happening and realized that the little chickens needed her immediate help. While her friends stayed and supported the two weary chickens, she sped away and gathered some nearby wisps of fluffy cloud. She huffed and puffed and gathered them up into a large soft cloud nest. Then she pushed this right up beside Henrietta and Hector. “Quickly! Settle down on this,” she said, indicating the cloud. “You will be safe and secure here until you feel well rested and ready to fly again. After that you can begin to look for a spot where you would like land. Then call us and we will come back and help float you closer to the ground. You can then jump off and safely fly the rest of the way down to the ground.”

Henrietta and Hector gratefully flopped down onto the cloud and thanked their friends.  “We are sorry that you were so frightened,” apologized the young sea breezes. “We were not paying attention to how weary you had grown, for we do not have wings and never really tire. We forgot about everything else besides helping you to have a wonderful adventure.”

The two bantams reassured them that they held no hard feelings, thanked them again sleepily and wriggled themselves side to side, the way chickens do, until they were nestled deep in the softness of the downy cloud. Then the young sea breezes headed back out towards the seashore to play with the waves as these splashed up onto the sand and rocks.

Ahhh! Henrietta and Hector sighed. It was such a relief to feel safe again, to rest their weary wings and relax. The warm sun smiled down on them. The cloud under them rocked gently back and forth. Soon both little bantams fell fast, and deeply, asleep.

Now clouds, as you probably know, are friendly things, and like to meet up with one another to chat and socialize, just as good friends do everywhere. Soon many clouds joined the one where the two little bantams peacefully slept.

Chapter 4: Danger!

The young sea breezes were so absorbed in their play (as children of all kinds can easily be) that they forgot to pay attention to what was happening around them. Suddenly, they remembered about Henrietta and Hector, but by then, a thick blanket of white and grey had covered the whole sky. Down beneath the clouds, rain began to fall heavily onto the earth and the ocean, but above them, the sun still shone. Henrietta and Hector, safe and dry, still slept on peacefully.

The young sea breezes tried to push and poke through the clouds, to find the one where Henrietta and Hector were (hopefully) still resting. They pushed, and they poked, and they pushed, and they poked, but they were not strong enough to break through the thick cloud cover. They were out of breath and had to rest a while. “We won’t give up!” they declared emphatically. “We won’t stop until we know our little friends are safe!”  Fortunately, the clouds soon finished their conversations. It was time to go their separate ways, and they slowly drifted apart. Unfortunately, by the time the young sea breezes spotted the large cloud nest where the bantams lay nestled deep in its downy softness, it had floated far out over the ocean. “Oh no!” They exclaimed.  “Little bantams may like puddles, but they cannot swim out there. The waves are too rough, and there are many creatures who would love a meal of tender chicken. But we need help…we cannot go way out there!  (They were, after all, still very young sea breezes, and did not have much experience with emergencies such as this.)  They raced away to find Makani, their big wind brother.

Makani swiftly returned with them. “Hmmm,” he said seriously, but calmly. “This cloud is now too far out over the ocean even for me to go and bring it back to the Island. But, do not be afraid,” he continued with confidence. “I know who can help us now. Cover your ears, for I must shout out across the blue, blue ocean to my friend, Coastal Wind, who lives along the other edge of the waters to the East. She can bring this cloud with its little passengers to safety.”  Henrietta and Hector were still so tired they kept on sleeping peacefully.

Have you ever played a game where one person tells a message to another, and that person passes it to the next, and so forth? Well, this is exactly what happened with the messages shared from one wind to another. The young sea breezes explained all about Henrietta and Hector and their travel plans to Makani, who explained everything to Coastal Wind. She thought that perhaps the little bantams might be happier up in the hill country, so she brought the cloud (and the young sea breezes’ message) to Mountain Wind, who brought the cloud (and the young sea breezes’ message) to Forest Wind, who thought that perhaps the little bantams might prefer the desert. Desert Wind was sure the plains would be more suitable; then Plains Wind was positive that Lake Wind could find the destination that Henrietta and Hector had wished for. Things went on and on like that, until at last, a gentle Spring Breeze grew tired of tediously pushing the cloud with its still sleeping passengers any further. She could not even remember where she was supposed to be taking them, or why. She knew only that she must keep them safe until they were fully rested and could fly back down to the earth.  But … they were still asleep! She decided to slowly lower the cloud until it gently bumped into the thick fog that lay just above the ground. Mother Night came over to investigate, and upon hearing the situation (as well as Spring Breeze could remember it) offered to take over. She thanked Spring Breeze, who then went on her way.  At long last, the two sleeping travelers were safely placed in the middle of a thicket of thorny shrubs and reedy grasses by the edge of a small pond. Mother Night watched over Henrietta and Hector until Dawn arrived, whereupon she returned to her own bed to rest far away beyond the mountains to the West.

Cloud fish

A sweet poem Pamela Perkins and her granddaughter wrote together after seeing clouds in the sky that looked like fish.


Cloud fish, cloud fish

In a sea of blue

Floating on the wind-waves

As I gaze at you.


I wonder what you think

As you look down at me,

Am I at the bottom,

Or the top of your sea?


“Cloud fish, cloud fish

Where do you swim at night?”

“Between the shining silver stars

Or in the pale moonlight.”


“Cloud fish, cloud fish,

May I come with you?”

“Close your sleepy eyes tonight,

Then I will come for you.”

Social Awareness

Being open to the child that stands before us is one of the most challenging, rewarding and essential tasks for the caregiver, parent, or teacher. Join us for a wonderful workshop exploring this topic at Kimberton Waldorf School, June 26-29:

Developing Therapeutic Deepening in our Work with Young Children

With Laurie Clark

In this workshop, we will explore a format for child observation and contemplation as well as therapeutic circle times. Don’t miss this deep and wonderful workshop! Learn more by clicking here.

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