"Want to try my peach pit soup?"
"Mmmm...delicious. Needs more mint. And rocks."
"Oh yes. Of course. And perhaps a sprig of lavender?"
The littles busy themselves in their corner of the garden. A counter. A wash basin. Bric-a-brac. Little more than thrift store finds and 7 bags of pebbles, but enough to make a world. Children can do much with little.
A few months ago in the NURTURE bundle produced by Wild+Free, Rachel Alsbury wrote a fantastic little article about nurturing outdoor play, primarily by means of a mud kitchen. Growing up in the country on a farm, we had woods and barns and all manner of places to run around. Now, living in town, we don’t even have a mature tree to climb!
Luckily, mothers can do much with little, too.
A short while later, a homeschooling veteran and friend of mine shared a darling book called Mud Pies and Other Recipes by one Marjorie Winslow. In it are recipes with everything from Boiled Button Soup to the classic Mud Pie, detailed with sweet and simple instructions. Leave it in the sun to bake. Add a pinch of sand for taste. Toss in leaves. Serve warm.
I had to make a mud kitchen for Alice and Milo.
The next time I was out treasure hunting at thrift stores I began gathering. Utensils. Colanders. Bowls. Copper kettles and pans. We re-purposed a wash basin in our garage into their sink. (You simply must have water. This is essential to all good recipes. Every child knows this.) And so I batted my eyelashes and roped my dear husband into helping me see it to fruition. He scavenged for a couple of spare boards; measured, cut and nailed them together to make a sturdy surface; divided their space from the garden and hauled the new "sink" out after stopping up the drain.
Opening night, Alice and I played apothecary shop. We picked lavender and soaked them in a small bottle with almond oil. A week later we decanted our "perfume" into a small amber dropper bottle.
They run around, taking bits of leaves and fruit from around the garden, especially peach pits from the compost.
Would you like some peach pit soup?