Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Ode to a Watering Can

This morning was a bit warm and oppressive, so after Ryan had breakfast we wandered out onto the porch for some fresh air. Ryan had a lovely time tromping over the slate tiles, feeling for the grout with his bare toes, but what truly grabbed his attention was the big empty watering can sitting next to the railing. It’s nearly as big as he is, but light enough that he was able to pick it up and sling it around with no trouble. And sling it around he did!

First off, he turned it all around to examine every side and angle. He held it by the spout and looked carefully at the side and top handles. He grabbed the side handle and examined the dust on the bottom. He transferred his grip to the top handle and re-examined the spout. He very carefully felt the little holes in the white tip and ran his fingers along the connection between the white and green plastic. He put it down and peered into its depths. He laid it on its side and rolled it back and forth.

Next came the auditory examination. Each part of the can had to be banged on and the sounds compared with the bangs on another part. He banged the flat bottom, first with one hand, then with the other, then with both. He rolled the can over and banged each side in turn, occasionally banging the bottom in between. He banged each handle and the spout, although the lack of resonance in the narrower bores was obviously a disappointment. He then banged the entire can on the slate.

The third round, of course, was taste testing. A little lick here, a little lick there, a quick suck on the white spout. (Don’t worry, gardeners, this is a strictly water watering can – no noxious chemicals or fertilizers to be concerned about.)

And then the complete examination started over again from the beginning. After hearing and tasting, naturally the looks needed to be re-studied. Once again, careful hands gripped and patted and turned while intense eyes took in every feature. The lip around the base was studied in detail, as was the nubby handle. Little fingers were poked into the hole at the top and through each handle. Little eyes peered through each handle as well, and attempted to peer into the tiny holes in the spout. A little nose was pressed against all the surfaces (and I suspect a little tongue was, as well).

He spent at least 15 minutes sitting on the porch, happily studying that watering can. And I wonder what he learned from it. Did he make the connection that the bigger canister makes louder bangs than the narrower handles and spout? Did he understand that he can’t see into the holes in the spout because they’re too little? Did he recognize that the can sits more securely on its flat base than its curved side? Did he understand that it’s easiest to hold by its handle rather than its spout? Has he begun to connect the word “green” that I repeated with the color he sees when he looks at the can? Are all these little details merely lurking at the back of his brain, ready to come back into his consciousness as he makes other discoveries and connects what he saw today with things he has yet to learn?

It’s just a watering can, and he’s just a baby, but I can see great discoveries coming out of their brief interaction!

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