Friday, July 23, 2010
Fine Arts Friday: Just a Reminder
Children on the Shore by Mary Cassatt, 1885
This is a favorite painting of Americans, undoubtedly of those, like myself, that spent summer vacations at "the shore." It reminds me of the happiest playtimes that children can have in freedom at the beach. Of course, parents need to keep a watchful eye that children don't stray or get into trouble in the water, but for the most part, unless a parent wants to join in the fun and assist in creating an ocean castle, fortification, or living burial ground, it is best that adults stay out of the way (applying sun lotion only and otherwise not worrying about clothes or sand or wet).
These two charming little girls are equipped with shovels and a bucket. A bucket is useful for carrying water and also for shaping sand for fortifications, but no other equipment is needed; clam shells are good shovels. My brother's family and I plunked our kids at a beach one afternoon with absolutely nothing, and they managed to play for four hours in perfect bliss.
There is so much going on at the beach--sand crabs, shells, the constant motion of the waves and whatever they bring up, the eating away of the sand around your toes and your castles as the tide comes up ever closer and then recedes, the seaweed, the clouds, the invitation to skitter and slide in the shallow surf, gulls catching fish, gull political conventions, sandpipers fretting, instant relief from heat in an ocean that always surprises, skate and fish remains, boats going by, holes that fill up with water from the bottom, sand sharks, fishermen, mud pies that need to be made, the ocean breeze, and constant noise of surf and animals and wind and jabbering with friends about what you will build and how, with improvisation along the way.
And the beach accommodates children of all ages together in an ensemble of play. Here are photos of my brothers and two friends playing on the shore. The littlest one there (on the right), my youngest brother, never left it, living his adulthood on the Florida eastern coast. At the beach he was always and thoroughly absorbed. If you have access to a beach and young kids, take advantage. They have a ball--you have a rest. Mother beach takes over.
Happy summer, everyone!