Weather drawing

We took a break from our regular walks to sit down and reflect on previous walks.  Some of the children were keen to draw their own ‘map’ of the places we had walked and so we set aside time to do some map drawing.

A number of the children drew winding pathways dotted with plants and animals – reminders of things they had seen along the way.

A few recalled the various bits of ‘treasure’ we had found – such as the bottle with a message in it – and this soon led to drawing maps with all kinds of hidden treasures.

As if prompted by the nautical theme of treasure maps and sunken ships, some recalled the wooden remains they had once spotted submerged in the lake – their own ‘Titanic’ discovery.  All at once the stories began, and the drawings became not so much pictures ‘of’ things, as parts of the story itself.  The force of an imaginary storm was conjured up on one child’s page, and the outline of the boat slowly disappeared from view under layers of dark, swirling wind and rain.  He explained as he drew:

This is the black storm

The red is the fire running about in the water.

The storm is putting out the fire.

See how dark it’s getting. 

The water is putting the fire out.

Several children took up this form of ‘storm drawing’, recounting stories of people going overboard, ships being broken to pieces and all matter reduced to nothing in the path of the dark storm.

As the imaginary storms abated, the drawings came to an end. These did not so much offer finished representations of the place, but instead a compelling reminder of the liveliness of weather, place, people and the ways these are so often flung together.  In these drawings, I was reminded of Doreen Massey’s work and her hope that we might liberate our idea of space as something that is far from ‘closed’ or ‘static’ or able to be represented on the ‘flat horizontality of the page’, but rather to come to understand it as something lively or ongoing. Place in this sense can be thought of as an ‘event’.  As Massey says:

What is special about place is not some romance of a pre-given collective identity or of the eternity of the hills. Rather, what is special about place is precisely that throwntogetherness, the unavoidable challenge of negotiating a here-and-now … and a negotiation which must take place within and between both human and non-human (Massey, 2005, 140).

The children’s drawings seemed to somehow bridge the divide between representation and event, opening an imaginary and lively space through a drawing in which they were at the same time drawn by the weather.


Massey, D. (2005) For Space, Sage publishing, London.

After the storm

A massive storm had passed through town earlier in the week, and the children had many stories to tell.

One child told us of a tree that had fallen across their driveway.  Another recounted how she was in the car when the storm hit. There was a crack in the sky. It was too noisy.  We had to stay in the car and wait for the storm to finish.

We set off on our walk anticipating that there might be signs of the storm. We stopped at a look-out wall to survey the area and talked with the children about what types of things the storm might have left behind. Fallen down things or lots of water, a few thought.


We could see that unseasonal snow capped the distant mountain-tops.  That was a sign. There is not usually snow in October.  And closer in we could see the ground was littered with tree branches and bark.

As we headed down the hill, the ground became more and more sodden.


There were puddles everywhere.  Eventually there were so many puddles that they had joined together in what the children called a ‘big lake’.

They spent much time wading through the water and seemed to enjoy testing out the transformation of their usual walkways into these elongated water-ways, exclaiming over and over: ‘So much water. It’s so deep’.


Some children noticed that the ducks too had come ashore to enjoy the sodden landscape.


It is unusual for the ducks to be sitting out in the open and not to move when the children approach. Nestled right down into the saturated grass, they seemed to be sun-baking and reluctant to give up their warm spots.

The best find of all came towards the end of the walk – an enormous eucalyptus tree sprawled across the ground!


This was clear evidence of the storm.  ‘It came down in the storm. I think it was not very strong.’ But it was so big, it was hard to imagine what it would take to blow it over: ‘I think the wind must have been blowing at 350 to knock it down’


In a chorus of excitement, the children rushed towards the fallen tree. It instantly reminded them of the fun they had had at their last fallen-tree playground, and of the disappointment they felt when it was chain-sawed up and taken away.  They exclaimed: ‘At last. I was hoping there would be another tree fallen down’. ‘Let’s go and play on it’.

A few children peered under the roots to notice the water pooled there, while others lost no time clambering straight onto the wide and inviting tree-trunk. Very quickly, there was a line of children crawling along the massive horizontal trunk, edging their way along towards the tangle of top branches. They behaved a bit like a procession of ants.


However, this time the children didn’t get far with their wild-weather tree play. A nearby park ranger was clearing up after the storm, and advised that the tree wasn’t safe to play on.








He had already chain-sawed some of the smaller broken branches, and he was concerned that this might make the tree unstable in places. As we moved away from the tree, we explained to the crest-fallen children that sometimes storms could leave debris that was not always safe to play on.  They reluctantly accepted this. They could see in this case that the sheer size and mess of the fallen tree were reasons to exercise caution.


As a final stop on the way back, the children were drawn to their familiar ‘rabbit’ hideout,  under the weeping wattle tree – only to notice they could barely crawl under the heavy drooping branches. Clearly this home had also taken a battering in the storm.