On a cool wet morning in March, we ventured out to a favorite park with a tube of bubbles in hand; the playground equipment would be too wet to be fun. Our eldest daughter, Hazel, staked out the perfect spot to blow bubbles for her and her sister... near the water amidst a daffodil garden.
As each bubble formed, instead of quickly chasing after the perfectly formed spheres as they usually do, my daughters barely moved their feet. Each bubble seemed to float down like a light feather with no wind to carry it, dropping down onto, and into, the garden one by one without popping. They settled onto the dirt with spheres fully intact and onto leaves and flower petals creating new forms upon contact. Some even landed on Hazel’s hair.
It felt magical as we stood in our newly created bubble garden. As the girls continued to play, I found myself completely mesmerized. Never had I experienced bubbles keeping their form this long or becoming one with the surface they happened to land on. I squatted down to make closer observations, noticing the thin soap film move in ways that looked like Jupiter’s atmosphere, the light deflections and patterns created with each internal movement and change in my vantage point. I’ll say it again — I was mesmerized.
Back home, I did basic online research to learn about what I had seen in our bubble garden. Results ranged from the three vital components (soap, water, air) working together in varying quantities and qualities to a documentary, The Science of Bubbles.
I watched it with Hazel; I was more interested than she and was impressed but not surprised to hear the featured scientist say, “soap bubbles can tell us about how nature works on scales as large as our solar system and as small as a wave of light.” No wonder I was so mesmerized by them. It’s not the first time I’ve felt enchantment by bubbles, but this time felt different. My perspective on life and the things we’re surrounded with — visible or not — has expanded so much over the past year.
The film and scientists share that soap bubbles are mathematical problem solvers and have an uncanny search for geometric perfection. They always act to minimize their surface area (hence a spherical shape), and at all times, their surface tension is the key. Surface tension “ensures they perform shape changes with the minimum amount of energy, which is the preferred way nature operates.”
A minimum amount of energy — that’s what I was drawn to in the garden. The effortless way the soap bubbles formed, floated down and sat in stillness where they landed. They morphed as needed depending on the surface and in some cases, displayed dynamic colors, movement, and patterns amidst their stillness. There was so much at play between the just-right humidity levels, the balance between water and soap, and airflow, yet it was all so simple and natural. Simple always does it.
I’m thankful that I get to experience the world anew through and with my children, but we are always capable of seeing and experiencing our world as nature prefers it. Simple effortless pleasures, simple moments of gratitude, simple observations, and simple actions that feel (and can be) extraordinary. Our simple morning outing and bubble garden discovery reaffirmed that experiencing the magic that surrounds us is possible anytime, anywhere.