The children of Chicago chalk chalk chalk when the weather turns. In order of frequency, least to most, the top five sidewalk chalk-drawn items in my neighborhood:
5) Octopus with a gajillion legs.
4) Hearts! Crazy lopsided multicolored hearts.
3) Rocket ships.
2) Dogs labeled “dog” and bikes labeled “bike”.
and… 1) Hopscotch.
On my walk to work yesterday I passed six hopscotch boards, all multicolored, with weebly-wobbly lines and Dr. Seussian angles. My favorite? The last square was labeled “HEAVEN”.
I love hopscotch. I love it because it involves sidewalks and sidewalk chalk. But also because of the simplicity: throw a rock, hop your hops, reach the end, turn around. Maybe there’s a larger competitive purpose, but I’ve never witnessed a hardcore game of hopscotch. The big aim seems to be the creation of the board.
I believe motion rewires our brain. Neural pathways reach out their little tendrils and join hands, when the body moves in new ways. I didn’t come up with this idea, certainly, but I regularly turn to it. (I love learning new forms of transport, new ways to bend — even if I suck at them; I even love walking labyrinths, those ancient patterns inset in the floors of cathedrals, for this very reason.)
What does hopscotch do to us? Why do kids make hopscotch boards so instinctively? What if we gave every kid in Chicago sidewalk chalk? How many hopscotch boards would they make? Could we hopscotch all over town? And would we think differently afterward?
Other assorted favorite chalk drawings from my morning walk:
-A sidewalk square: “Welcome to dinner OUTSIDE”
-A front step: “CHARLE”
-A train extending over several sidewalk squares, each box car labeled a different food: applesauce, water, milk, peas, strawberries, PB&J