I was walking home from work one evening when I came across a tree recently cut down by Council workers. When I got home, I grabbed my son, and made him come with me on the way to soccer training. We loaded my car up with these chunks of tree trunk, selecting the ones with the smoothest cut. I dropped the boy off at training, then went and dropped the wood off at kinder.
The next day, when we were playing outside, I got a rake, and a small group of willing helpers, and we set about placing these lovely contorted slices of wood.
Our playground is tending to disappear under tanbark lately. Council delivers more and more every year. We can’t seem to stop them. It is like the encroaching Sahara. We had decided to clear one corner of tanbark, and return it to garden in the hope that the next tanbark delivery would at least cover a reduced area.
Working with the children I raked back the deep layer of tanbark to create a raised edge on one side, and get back down to earth on the other. We placed the pieces of wood along the edge to hold the tanbark back. I let the children tell me in what order to place the pieces and we discussed exactly where to place them, and what orientation was best.
The children immediately saw the potential for stepping stones, so we also tested the distance and level and decided which way up was best underfoot.
By the time we went home, we had built a lovely edge to our tanbark*, and protected a corner of the garden from the encroaching bark.
When we came out to play the next day, I found the stumps covered in glitter and petals. Another class had decided these were fairy stairs, and had added fairy dust and flowers.
I love the contorted shapes of these pieces of wood – it was a bottlebrush tree. I love the rusticity of the bark still on, and the unfinished surface. I had been thinking about what to use for that task. I had looked at various manufactured products – bricks, rubber blocks, rubber strips etc.
These are so much nicer.
*This edge is not part of the softfall area.