Wild Girls indeed.
It can seem such a terrifying concept really – the idea of wildness and what we have come to believe it should mean.
As if somehow, in being wild ~ in being described as , or to be seen as being, or in hushed tones being spoken of, as wild, we are thought of also as being, by its very nature and meaning; beyond the pale, uncontrollable, and therefore dangerous. Over-excited, impolite, possibly aggressive, and definitely yes most definitely – trouble ….
And yet wildness is beautiful and expansive, both spiritual and redemptive. It is awe-inspiring, strong, sustainable and something we all secretly yearn for, in one form or another.
And, as much of today’s ecological disasters and destruction will testify to, wildness is something we must cherish and protect at all costs.
So… when I think of raising girls, who in turn will become women, I want to help them discover the power of that wildness within themselves.
Sometimes we talk of ‘finding the tools that will help us become...’ but I sincerely believe we don’t need to seek beyond who we are, to find out what it is that we need.
We are enough.
It is believing that we are that is the greatest challenge to us in becoming women, particularly so as young girls making that transition into early womanhood.
So when I talk in the future to my girls about their own unique wildness, I will, in turn, talk to them about the importance of harnessing that wildness, learning not to be afraid of it, and equally as important, to trust it implicitly, so that they become can become a holistically complete version of themselves – with strong identities they understand and admire, to become women who are strong, passionate, confident and compassionate.
In whatever form of womanhood they wish to choose for themselves.
So I made a Mud Kitchen .
I wanted my girls to have somewhere to play, where the main intention of the play was to get dirty.
Somewhere that mud would become ingrained under their fingernails and in the delicate lifelines of their palms; somewhere that was both chaotic and fun, with no other purpose than to make a mess, and to enjoy it.
Firstly I put together a little area, next to a water butt – (water is an essential feature here, and something that my girls want to play with above all else).
I had an old wooden work bench, which I hauled out from the shed, and which I inherited when we moved here last year. In addition I added a broken stove top kettle, a aluminium bucket, some falcon ware cooking pots (way past their best – I am a actually quite a good cook but I do burn things sometimes), and some wooden wine crates, which I got from a local wine merchant.
The wine crates were free, with a small donation to a local charity, asked for nicely, and a great exchange, I think.
I have tried to use wooden, pre-loved, salvaged items where I can. And mostly I have just made use of what I already had, with a little bit scouring in charity shops and my mums cupboards to furnish the rest.
I really didn’t want to use plastic. The reasons for this are because I wanted the mud kitchen to be made of natural materials, and for it to feel earthy and bumpy and hand-made, rather than manufactured and assembled.
It is also because I really want to teach my girls about the over-use of plastic and the effects this has. And aesthetically, wood beats plastic every time.
Here is the ingredient list for ours, but there are so many variables depending on location, the size of the space that you have, and number of children who will be using it and so on.
They can be added to and expanded overtime – I would like to make a washing line of saucepans, pan lids and utensils, that I have seen used in a school. A kind of salvage drum kit. But those items may take a little while to collect. And in the meantime, what we have works really well.
And for now, this is our little back garden mud kitchen – and we love it.
Ingredients for a Mud Kitchen
A good bench or work station( or an old coffee table/ wooden wine crates upturned ~ anything really that forms a solid structure for placing other things on.)
I screwed in a few hooks on the work bench to hang buckets, spades, spoons and tools from.
Buckets – There is something really pleasing about the twang and ping of items falling into tin buckets – so I would definitely go for this material over plastic here.
Wine Crates – We have two at the moment – one is used for a miniature sandpit and the other I keep empty, to be used for putting leaves, pine cones, and other garden treasures in.
Tools – small gardening forks, spades and trowels, wooden spoons for stirring, tin camping cups and anything with handles work really well.
Utensils – a collection of saucepans, colanders, sieves and lids make really good items.
Water Butt – if it is possible, and you have the space, water butts are brilliant for generating a pretty constant supply of water. Gathered from the rain and sustainable!
Sand and mud – With playing sand it is advisable and much safer to find non-toxic sand that is designed specifically for children’s play, as oppose to building supplies. If it is possible, and there is space to do so, I would suggest digging over a four square space of earth that is clear of grass and rubble – instant soil and earth for making mud – just add water.
Have fun, be fearless, be free, be brave, be wild….. xxx