from the studio:

I discovered a few summers ago that if I placed a full box of chalk on my front stoop, my sidewalk would be quickly transformed with fanciful creations.

Some days, the children of the neighbourhood draw extravagant obstacle courses down the entire block’s sidewalk, complete with fierce animals, walls of fire, and boxes of Minecraft-like TNT. They take turns running the course, sometimes in pairs with littles matched with older children, running and squealing as they hop over deep dark holes and bear traps. When they’re not crafting obstacle courses, or hopscotch grids, the kids are creating elaborate trails and parks for their matchbox cars and plastic ponies. Their sweet heads, bowed together as they first build their world with chalk lines, then back together again as they create stories within their world.

The colour and chaos brings me out onto the stoop with my tea. The kids, refuting boundaries, creating what they want, and working together to craft a world and a story, not always amicably, but from nothing. It helps me drive my own creativity to see these children freely combining ideas, breaking “rules” that they don’t even know exist.

The mosaic creations are my favourite. They appear on my walkway and stairs, often when the children need some quiet distance from their wilder romping and play. Each child, from 3 years to 9 years, plops down by a block, and meditatively colours each square within the block. When the blocks are coloured, I can’t help but be joyful. I love to see them when I leave home, I love to see them when I come back home.

A pair of sweet kids down the block coloured these last week because I was having A Very Sad Day, so I must be obvious about the joy that these simple blocks bring me.


We all need a simple joy. What’s yours?