"We collected only the leaves with holes in them."
When I was writing Stuck with the Blooz, this line came out. Whereas the other enjoyable-blooz activities that are in the book such as staring, drawing, making a fort, splashing, were things I have actually done, I had never actually "collected only the leaves with holes in them." Until after Blooz was published.
I was at the Saltonstall artist residency in late fall, a little bit stuck with writing and a little bit lonely in my self imposed isolation, so on one of my afternoon walks as I crunched through the leaves, I thought to try it out. Looking for leaves with holes slowed down my walk, and led me to examine the ground in a way I didn't usually. I saw tiny caterpillars, hiding mushrooms, all kinds of rich shades of brown, and many beautiful autumn leaves in yellows, oranges, browns, many with small or large holes. Collecting them did in fact make me feel lighter, more curious, calm. I took them back to my desk and spread them out. Some holes were perfectly round like a hole punch, others were messy seaweed shapes; some leaves seemed sad to have holes, others seemed proud and psyched. What was it about collecting leaves with holes in them that was particularly satisfying? Why was it different than just collecting any and all leaves? I think there are a few things that collecting leaves with holes did for me. For one, it led me to notice and appreciate all those details on the ground. It also gave my mind a really specific path to follow, and when it did, the sad, lonely, anxious thoughts I'd been having got lost behind me in the woods. It also sparked my curiosity and creativity to take over. I poked my finger in the holes. I turned the leaves around. I wrote a friend a letter and stuffed it full of colorful hole-filled leaves, and I made up a new writing prompt: A hole in a leaf is...
A hole in a leaf is...a pause in the conversation, a knot in my earbuds, an unreturned call from a friend, a stalled train on a busy day, a breath when I'm swimming, a creek in the woods, cocoa in a storm, a snowstorm in May, a question in the middle of an answer....
Wanna try it?
1. If there are leaves on the ground, go for an only holes collectors walk.
2. Grab a pen and paper, set a timer for for 5, 10, or 20 minutes then go: