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Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Ode To Sidewalk Chalk

Hey, guys! I hope you're enjoying your April so far, because I have got a lot of special and fun blog topics on the docket for the next thirty days.

And, since 2013 has been a year of great experimentation with the Pop Culture Addict's Guide To Life, I thought that I would do what I have done over the last few months and select a common link between each of the entries within a theme day.

And, this month, I have chosen Wednesdays as the day in which all of the topics will be linked together in some manner.

So, what have I chosen to talk about on this and every Wednesday this month? Well, I'm glad you asked! And even if you didn't ask, I'm gonna tell you anyway because that's how I roll!

Depending on what part of the world you live in, you're either transitioning from summer to autumn, or you're leaving winter in the dust to move ahead to spring. Well, I'll be completely honest with you. Spring is coming extremely late to Ontario, Canada this year, as evidenced by the temperature of -5 Celsius that I was greeted with yesterday morning on my way to work. I'm seriously wondering if we actually set out clocks ahead all the way to next November, because it is way too cold to believe that the season of spring is two weeks old.

But, whatever the case is, I'm sure that spring will be arriving whenever it feels like it. When it finally does, I bet that a lot of you will be thinking about making outdoor plans, as the weather eventually warms up. I can see some of you breaking out the grills for the very first barbecue of the year, tuning up the lawn mowers to prepare for the growing grass, planting tulips, marigolds, and rhododendrons in the garden, and using bicycles and roller blades to get around town.

That's why I've decided to devote this month's Wednesday topics to items, toys, and activities that to me symbolize Springtime. Spring Break might be over for a lot of you, but this month, I'm going to be spreading the Spring Fever around for just a little bit longer, hoping that the more I talk about Spring, the quicker that it will actually get here!!!

Can you tell that I am thinking a little too much about Spring here?

And, I can't think of a better topic to kick off our Spring Activity feature than a toy that I used to play with all the time as a young boy. I suppose that you could say that I became quite the mini-Picasso when it came to these crafty art supplies. All I needed to have for a canvas was a driveway...or a sidewalk...or a brick wall...or even that one time that I drew all over my neighbour's fence and got in so much trouble for it. Whoops.

Yes, for this entry, I'm going to talk about my memories of sidewalk chalk. I'm sure that almost everyone here has used sidewalk chalk at least once in their lives. The number of ways in which sidewalk chalk can be used is endless.

I imagine that most of you have probably used sidewalk chalk to design your own custom made hopscotch courses and 4-square courts. I remember one time when I was in elementary school, I brought some sidewalk chalk with me to play with at recess, and I attempted to make the world's largest hopscotch course. I had intended to cover the entire paved surface of the playground with a hand-drawn hopscotch court...but by the time I got to square number fifty-six, the recess bell rang before I even had the chance to use it. I had fully intended on finishing it during the second recess, but a freak rainstorm washed away my hopes and dreams forever.

Oh, well...maybe I'll try to break that record again.

I also remember using sidewalk chalk to play a game that I actually invented when I was eight years old. When I was in elementary school, the playground was designed in such a way that all of the playground equipment was embedded in a pit that was covered with little white pebbles.

OFF-TOPIC NOTE: I wouldn't recommend sliding down a slide and landing on your knees. I still have the scars on my right knee from an incident in fifth grade where I had stones embedded in it.

Anyway, back on topic. Those stones were the inspiration behind the game that I invented all the way back in 1989 known as “Mini-Curling”. All you had to do was draw a bulls-eye target with sidewalk chalk on the pavement, and take a few of the pebbles and colour them in different colours using the chalk (I almost always used blue and pink, but any colour would do). Then you'd roll the pebbles as close to the bulls-eye as possible while the opponent would try to knock the pebbles of the opposing colour away from the center. It worked out quite well, and the best part about it is that when you were finished playing, the rain would wash it away.

Come to think of it, I always thought it would be cool to draw a board game on the pavement using sidewalk chalk, and by having ourselves as the playing pieces. It would not only be innovative, but also guaranteed to be an original game every time you played it, as you'd have to redraw it every time. It would take quite a lot of work, but the endless fun that one would have would be almost worth it.

And, of course, you can't forget the art of using sidewalk chalk to make chalk drawings.

You remember that television series for children known as “Simon in the Land of Chalk Drawings”? If you enter that name in the search box above, it should take you to the entry that I did on this show nearly two years ago. Well, in my youth, I watched that show so much that I often pretended that I was Simon, and I was visiting the land of chalk drawings to have fun and forget all of my worries and cares.

(Though to be fair, my worries and cares as a child involved not being able to go swimming in the rain or being forced to miss my favourite television show due to it being pre-empted by a presidential speech.)

I loved to draw lots of pictures with my collection of sidewalk chalk. I would draw houses, buildings, people, rainbows (and unfortunately for me, my rainbows would always be incomplete as back in my day it was near impossible to find red chalk), and lots of other designs and doodles. Of course, my drawing style at the age of eight wasn't exactly elaborate, and at best, my people were stick figures, and my houses looked as if they should have belonged in the community of Bedrock. But, some people take sidewalk chalk art very seriously, and they end up creating absolutely gorgeous – albeit temporary – designs.

Just have a look at some images of brilliant sidewalk chalk art that I found online through Google. You won't believe your eyes.

Love the bright colours!

The attention to detail is phenomenal!

The use of shading is quite incredible!

HOLY @#%&!!! That was made with just CHALK?!? It looks like it should be hanging up in the Louvre! Unbelievable!

The wonders that people can come up with using an item as ordinary as chalk are fantastic. Is it any wonder that I loved working with sidewalk chalk as a kid?

Of course, the one problem with sidewalk chalk is that it doesn't last forever. You almost have to grab a camera and snap a picture of your creation before it fades away.

And, take it from me. You do not want to leave an entire collection of sidewalk chalk outside all night...especially when you get a summer storm that lasts the whole night. I went outside to play with my sidewalk chalk the next morning, and it had disintegrated into a colourful mess. I was so upset!

Fortunately, the good people of Crayola have found a way to preserve sidewalk chalk by not only encasing it inside a plastic, waterproof tub, but making the chalk at least four times the size of ordinary chalk, so it would last longer.

Now kids and adults of all ages can enjoy playing with sidewalk chalk at their leisure. Isn't innovation great?

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