Arts with Heart: Observations from a Walk in Franklin Park

An encounter with Canada geese building a nest in this Columbus venue prompted a thought: What if human creativity is instinctive, just like behaviors in nature?

Mimi Brodsky Chenfeld
Mimi Brodsky Chenfeld

I often walk in Columbus’ Franklin Park, which is occupied by dozens and dozens of Canada geese. The birds are fascinating. Their large community breaks up into smaller groups that stay together for swimming, sunning, eating and sleeping.

On a recent walk, I noticed strolling geese couples. I remembered it was mating season and that geese mate for life. An amazing sight stopped me as I crossed a small bridge over the water. Standing on the edge of a grassy outlet, snapping his head from right to left, an alert goose was guarding the area.

Nearby, under a bush, his mate was painstakingly, patiently building a nest. Twig by twig, layering and weaving, picking pecks of dirt in her beak to place between the twigs, she worked nonstop before plunking herself in the middle of her unfinished nest. When she rose to continue her work, I saw two large eggs in the center of her swirl of twigs and dirt. She stopped only when she joined her mate to honk out warnings to geese swimming too close.  

After an hour, I had to move on but my mind was consumed by the idea of instinct. It’s overwhelming to contemplate the instinctive behaviors—parental and otherwise—of the animal world.  

I couldn’t help considering the idea that maybe creativity and the arts are built into the very fabric of our human family. From cave times to our times, every culture creates music, dance, stories and visual arts. Each has symbols, colors, rituals, traditions, legends, celebrations and rites of passage. Do all the worlds’ mothers instinctually sing lullabies to their babies? Are stories retold through the ages built into our human heritage? Is there any child who does not want to scribble colors on floors, walls or paper, or put their hands into mud, clay or dough and make something?  

I like to believe that the arts and the desire to rearrange everything and to play with possibilities are instinctive gifts. They are precious and must be appreciated, celebrated and protected—just like those Canada Geese and their nest!  

Mimi Brodsky Chenfeld is a longtime Columbus arts educator and author who works with children of all ages and encourages them to become creative, lifelong learners.

This story is from the Summer 2021 issue of Columbus Parent.