#63: Chalk

Katie finds an anonymous chalk message on her path.

Last Wednesday, I was working in the dining room when my mother opened the front door to check the weather. Then I heard an ‘Oh! Katie, come look at this!’ So I paused in my studying, got up and came to look over her shoulder, and what did I see? A message written in chalk on our front path.

“Have a lovely day, Happy Wednesday”

What a lovely surprise! We smiled and we laughed, and we had a guess at who had left the note, but we haven’t confirmed it. We don’t know the particular reason (there wasn’t anything particularly special about this particular Wednesday) but it made us smile, and it continues to do so as it has yet to be washed away (and we’re certainly not going to be washing it off ourselves, it's too lovely a message!) It was a random act of kindness, adding a little extra sunshine to an unassuming day.

Discovering this message made me appreciate being home for Easter in my small, friendly village community. It also reminded me of one of my favourite childhood pastimes — drawing on the sidewalk. I used to go out with a few friends and a bucket-full of chalk, and then we would draw all over the pavement outside my house. It would be a mix of pretty pictures, hopscotches, and little messages like those above.

Why was this so fun? Number one: it washes away. It’s like graffiti, but more legal. It washes off eventually, and it isn’t hard to rub it out yourself if you mess up the picture. A bit safer than your average spray paint, which is why ‘chalktivism’ is a thing. It’s a way to ‘express your creativity and your outrage’ by making use of public spaces, going wild with activist artwork composed of chalk.

Number two: you are working with a giant, never-ending canvas. You can build miniature roads for toy cars, imaginary village maps, and stepping stones across lava. With a piece of simple chalk in your hand, the world can be anything. An imaginary world, a place to express your views and persuade others, a simple message of everyday kindness. Whatever comes to your imagination and can be expressed in chalk.

On the evening of that same Wednesday last week, my Mom and I went to see the new film Hidden Figures. It was so good, and I totally recommend it — the music, the story, the characters, the feelings it evokes. Inspiring and wonderful. But its relevance here? The women spend an awful lot of time in that film with chalk in their hands, scribbling madly away on blackboards, working out complex mathematical equations in their role as ‘computers’ for NASA. With that simple, unassuming piece of white chalk, these women worked out equations that took a man into space, and safely brought him back again.

You’ve got to admit, there’s some pretty marvellous things that you can do with chalk.

Katie writes a weekly blog post about random objects that she finds in her everyday life. If you’re interested in reading more, check out her blog Object, a collaboration with fellow Medium blogger Eleanor.