Griff's second grade class has been creating sculptures representing the sounds of various seasons. Most recently, they assembled "sounds of snow at night," a cloud of tulle and crinkly plastic on a wire frame, stitched together and dripping with snow. The snow itself is composed of bits of glass, metal, beads, wire, bottles, keys, buckles, and so much more. The sculpture sparkles and jingles. It invites inspection. You might find a tiny wind chime, or a Sam Adams bottlecap, or dainty strings of crystals, or spirals of plastic-coated wire, or feathered things, or jingle bells.
I was volunteering in the school's art studio on the day when the snow cloud group put the finishing touches on their creation. As typically happens in the studio, I was impressed by how they seemed to know just what they wanted, and just how to use these pieces. A hot glue gun rested nearby and they applied it expertly. One of the preschoolers was fascinated with their work, and after examining the cloud and listening to its sounds, he set about creating his own elements and suspending them from the cloud's frame. The second graders accepted his collaboration with neither territoriality nor condescension. Meanwhile, Reese, who had come to sit with me while eating his snack, drank in the whole scene. The next day, a friend told me that he had sat and stared for a long time at the finished cloud, first from beneath where it had been hung in the great hall, and then from the stairs above. I am similarly fascinated and have visited the school twice to photograph the sculpture. It's a fun challenge to figure out how best to capture it, what happens from every angle, what things I discover about it while leaning down from above or laying on the floor beneath it, or standing on a chair a few feet away.
Our enthusiasm for the glittering ice-and-snow-ness of this structure inspired me to find some wintery beads and crystals and to dig through our toolboxes and junk drawers and button jars. In the course of an afternoon, I created a garland to hang above our fireplace, and Griff assembled two icicles. Like the snow cloud, they jingle and sparkle. They are silvery and crystalline with hints of white, blue, and green. They include not only beads and buttons, but pendants from my childhood, discarded pop tops, screws, old earrings, keys to forgotten items, springs, and whatever else I could find. With candles below them, they sparkle and remind me of winter, of memory, of inspiration.