When I was a kid one of my favorite pastimes was making mud pies. It was amazing how much time I could spend with a couple of muffin tins, some dirt, water, sand (for sugar topping) and a few twigs (these served as candles). On a warm summer morning my mom would sit in a lounge chair nearby while I made my little pies (which actually, should have been called mud muffins), and served them to her. Or, my dolls and stuffed animals would come outside for the feast.
Another activity I adored was taping names on my marbles. Yes, I had a huge marble collection, and at one point in my young life I decided it would be fun to personify every one of them (of course, this also meant they couldn’t really be rolled). But that was okay—I didn’t really want to play games with my marbles that much. I just wanted to collect them, admire them, and get to know them.
There were other, seemingly silly childhood pursuits that also engaged my time though I won’t go into them here (I will admit that sweeping the dirt floors of my imaginary home under the dogwood trees was a favorite) but the main point was that while I was immersed in these activities I was in the “zone.” Time stood still; nothing else mattered. I was so focused on one thing only that my mother could have been calling me to dinner and I wouldn’t have noticed. Fire engines could have raced up my block and I wouldn’t have heard.
Sometimes, I wonder, while we’re rushing around these days, multi-tasking, checking our email while making dinner, taking toddlers to the park while chatting on cell phones, texting while driving (a not only stupid but dangerous habit), eating breakfast while watching TV, and other such pursuits, if we could ever get back to the harmless, innocent days of mud pies…or if they are gone forever.
I’d like to think that there are still days ahead when we will just do one aimless thing for a very long time. Like planting marigold seeds…or cloud gazing…or just daydreaming. Or yes…making mud pies. After all, spring—which frequently comes with a generous supply of mud--is just around the corner!