Friday Finds: Pressed Flowers

Fatherhood is funny.

Finding honest and interesting things to do with a young child can lead one down all sorts of previously unfollowed paths of creative exploration and into all kinds of time-filling follies.

For (nearly) fourteen years I’ve been nudging my daughter to try new things, to explore her creative self, and find fanciful ways to fill her mind with fabulous experiences.

For whatever reason for which I can’t quite recall, I was recently exploring something far less fanciful: the closet in my office… which is in itself an archeological site dating back to my having moved into the space well over a decade ago.

Finding my old university textbooks was not surprising, but finding those same textbooks stuffed full of dried wild flowers was something that I had obviously done long ago but almost forgotten about.

Foggy though my memory was on the exact timeline, I recall spending the day with my toddler-aged daughter in the local natural areas of the river valley, filling our days with simple delights and effortless fun.

Frolicking through the tall grasses and between the poplar trees, I remember that we picked flowers and I’d promised her that we would dry them and “make a present for mommy.”

Fascination is an emotion so easily overwhelmed by impatience, especially for someone only three or four years old, and I assume the flowers were stuffed into some conveniently fulsome tomes, my old microbiology textbook for one, to begin the drying and pressing process, then…

Forgotten.

Fast forward to this week and the aforementioned archeological dig through the back corners of my closet revealed a small stack of flagrantly outdated text books filled with the feathered edges of wax paper pressings, and a dozen or so samples of decade-old dried flowers.

Finding something meaningful to do with these fragments of my shared history with a daughter who is growing up and out so quickly may be a fruitless effort, or…

Forcing some kind of nostalgia into something so fleeting, a single day from a forgotten timeframe shared by a father and daughter my prove old-fashioned to her teenage eyes.

Faithless as that may seem, I almost stuck those textbooks back into the dark corners of my closet to wait out another decade.

Flowers, dried and brittle, imbued with some kind of narrative for a long lost day would likely age further and form an even more fortified link to that flipbook past given a few more fleeting years of passing time, or…

Forgotten again.

Frail and lost to time.

Famous to no one but my fleeting recollection of a fragile moment.

Fatherhood is funny, and fumbling my forties with emotions and curiously fading memories in unforeseen forms on an otherwise quiet Friday morning.

Comics: Camping with Kids

When my daughter was younger I wrote, illustrated and shared an online web comic about fatherhood. It documented some of the quirky things we did and used some of the funny things she said as the heartbeat of the humour.

Whatever humour I managed to inject into these little stories usually came from a blend of “kids say funny stuff” mashed against those parental expecations falling short. I usually salted in a generous helping of dad jokes, to flavour.

I dabbled in a lot of formats (single panel, four-panel full colour, black and white, and other various dimensions) and a diverse range of topics. One of my very early black and white three-panel series was brought to life from a camping trip we had then recently taken.

So, for example the first strip blossomed from my frustration at being the one who always needed to spend half my first afternoon setting up camp (tho let’s be honest… I love that part too!) while the Kid ran off to play with her friends. When she was that age, setting up to her was about getting her treats out of the car, never mind eventually needing a place to sleep. I guess that’s what dads are for.

A second memory was locked in as she remarked at all the effort it took to cook while we roughed it in our campsite. To be fair, when I was a teenager camping out alone with my friends we scarfed bags of chips and ate hot dogs for three meals a day. You’d think I would have learned something in scouts for twelve years and made us all a nice bit of tuck. There’s something to be said about simplicity, I guess, and when you’re young who actually has time for meal prep, anyways… not to mention the cleanup?

The final strip reflected this odd mix of hesitancy and urgency of the Kid exerting her own independence. She always wanted to do everything herself but with dad standing by as a safety net. Out camping is a good place to dabble in this because away from the routine of home there are lots of new experiences to be had, particularly around things as simple as sticking your food into a fire. Obviously, accepting the consequences for your independence is a whole other lesson and dads tend to eat a lot of burnt marshmallows.

Side Note: I’m thinking of digging some of these characters out of retirement and putting together some new strips for this blog. There won’t be any regularity to those posts, but let me know if you’re interested in that. Encouragement and interest are like kindling for creative fire you know.

These original comics and a couple hundred more are still (mostly) online at www.piday.ca.