Adventures in Creative Learning!

I believe that creativity and imagination are inherit qualities that everyone is born with. However, I believe that these innate abilities can be stifled or encouraged by one's environment. Children who are encouraged to use their hands and brains to create from a young age and who have had confidence building experiences are more likely to enjoy and pursue the arts and crafts for the rest of their lives.

I was the youngest of 10 children and my mother was 45 when I was born. You would think she would not have time to invest in a teaching me anything. However, each thing I saw her do I had to learn and she was very a very willing and patient instructor. The first thing I can remember her teaching me was how to tie my shoes. Then she started teaching me to make string toys such as cats cradles, and others which I now have forgot. I was hand sewing doll clothes by the time I was 5 or 6 years old. I started sewing on an old Singer treadle machine when I was 6. I made my first quilt top when I was 6 years old. It was just sewing together blocks but was a pretty big project for a 6 year old. I gave it to my sister Jewel when she got married.

I started learning to crochet when I was about 8. My daddy carved me a large crochet hook out of black walnut and I used torn strips of cloth from old worn out clothes and feed sacks and such to make round or oblong rugs. Once I learned to single crochet, mom taught me to double and triple stitch and how to add in stitches to make an item lay flat or how to decrease the stitches to form shapes.

I learned to knit when I was about 12. I also learned to embroider but that was one skill I never mastered but I didn't enjoy it as much as the others so probably just didn't apply myself.

These weren't the only skills mom had that I ask her to teach me. Also embroidery was not the only skill I couldn't master. The other two was wringing a chickens neck and skinning a squirrel! Lord help me if there is a disaster that requires killing and preparing game! I can do the killing, I used to squirrel hunt with dad and I was a crack shot too. I could out shoot all the neighbor hood boys. However, the preparing part with the squirrel was a real problem!

One day me and daddy came back from hunting with about 6 big, fat gray squirrels. Mom was out behind the house with a dish pan of water cleaning the squirrels. I watched her as I had many times before. I decided that it looked so very easy that I was going to clean the last one. Mom handed me the knife. Now, I can tell you exactly how to clean a squirrel but I can also tell you that it is about the hardest thing I ever tried to do!

How to clean a squirrel: Get a pan of cold water, also get a bucket for the hide and guts. Get a sharp knife. Grab the squirrel and make a neat cut across the middle of the back through the hide big enough to get two fingers in on each side of the slit. Insert fingers and work around separating the hide from the meat so you can get your fingers of both hands in and get a good grip, then pull both ways separating the skin from the meat in 1 smooth motion. The hide will only be attached at the feet and heat, cut the feet loose and the head leaving a clean body with no hair on it. Then cut down the belly, remove the innards, wash good in clean cold water, cut up and fry or cook and make gravy.

Now, how simple is that? Easier said than done! First of all, cutting through the hide and holding the squirrel's body taunt to make the cut is nearly impossible. Once you finally get the cut made and try to insert your fingers there I about 10 Gazillion hairs stuck to your fingers that is going in also. Then when you try the 1 pull skinning procedure the thing is slicker than snot! Your fingers slip out and the carcass goes flying out of your hands on the dirt, of course, it couldn't have just hit the pan of water. Now it is covered with hair and dirt and half skinned, By the time you wrestle it around and drop it 3 times and get to cutting off it's feet and head, mother decides there is no saving it so it gets thrown away!

Chicken neck wringing didn't go much better. I will just say that after you sling it round and round until your arm about flies off that when you set it down, it is drunk and staggers off into the bushes to live another day.

So if Armageddon hits, I might be able to make clothes but I will surely starve to death!



Glenna Combs