Kid's Activity: Straw Hats!

by Melissa Jaramillo and Julie Snyder

April is Straw Hat month! There are so many types -- from cowboy hats, farmer's hats, the "Sunday go-to-meeting" hats (my grandpa's term!). Straw hats most often have a wide brim, sheltering your face from the harsh elements of the sun. Also, being woven, they offer ventilation (movement of air) and are much more comfortable to wear in warm weather than their woolen cap counterparts. With the dawn of spring we have warm weather and straw hats appear to don many a head regardless of age!

Straw hats often conjure up favorite memories -- of dropping a line in the pond out back, of walking through rows upon rows of corn in the fields, of curling up under a tree enjoying the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn or Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm -- or one of our favorites "The Barefoot Boy" by John Greenleaf Whittier. (read below)

Preserve a special memory today with your child. Place your straw hat atop your head and head out to your favorite watering hole. Once there you can fish, skip rocks, or just sit and ponder -- daydreaming together about everything -- or nothing at all. With the hectic pace that we often attempt to keep, taking a "time out" for one another is an activity you will never regret. Enjoy!

The Barefoot Boy by John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892)

Blessings on thee, little man,
Barefoot boy, with cheek of tan!
With thy turned-up pantaloons,
And thy merry whistled tunes;
With thy red lip, redder still
Kissed by strawberries on the hill;
With the sunshine on thy face,
Through thy torn brim's jaunty grace;
From my heart I give thee joy, --
I was once a barefoot boy!
Prince thou art, -- the grown-up man
Only is republican.
Let the million-dollared ride!
Barefoot, trudging at his side,
Thou hast more than he can buy
In the reach of ear and eye, --
Outward sunshine, inward joy:
Blessings on thee, barefoot boy!

Oh for boyhood's painless play,
Sleep that wakes in laughing day,
Health that mocks the doctor's rules,
Knowledge never learned of schools,
Of the wild bee's morning chase,
Of the wild-flower's time and place,
Flight of fowl and habitude
Of the tenants of the wood;
How the tortoise bears his shell,
How the woodchuck digs his cell,
And the ground-mole sinks his well;
How the robin feeds her young,
How the oriole's nest is hung;
Where the whitest lilies blow,
Where the freshest berries grow,
Where the ground-nut trails its vine,
Where the wood-grape's clusters shine;
Of the black wasp's cunning way,
Mason of his walls of clay,
And the architectural plans
Of gray hornet artisans!
For, eschewing books and tasks,
Nature answers all he asks;
Hand in hand with her he walks,
Face to face with her he talks,
Part and parcel of her joy, --
Blessings on the barefoot boy!

Oh for boyhood's time of June,
Crowding years in one brief moon,
When all things I heard or saw,
Me, their master, waited for.
I was rich in flowers and trees,
Humming-birds and honey-bees;
For my sport the squirrel played,
Plied the snouted mole his spade;
For my taste the blackberry cone
Purpled over hedge and stone;
Laughed the brook for my delight
Through the day and through the night,
Whispering at the garden wall,
Talked with me from fall to fall;
Mine the sand-rimmed pickerel pond,
Mine the walnut slopes beyond,
Mine, on bending orchard trees,
Apples of Hesperides!
Still as my horizon grew,
Larger grew my riches too;
All the world I saw or knew
Seemed a complex Chinese toy,
Fashioned for a barefoot boy!