We lived outside unfettered and primarily unsupervised back in the good old days when we didn’t know any better than to fearlessly roam the planet oblivious to all sorts of dangers that terrify parents today. (Stranger Things? Totally nailed it as far as parents’ presence in our lives seemed.)
A few memories in particular I recall.
People think of rain as gloomy and spirit-dampening, but I remember none of that from my childhood. I recall running through weeds and tall grass in what seemed like endless summer behind our back fence, which happened to run parallel to the freeway. I also recall endless hours grinding what I considered stackable pencil plants (Scouring Rush or Horsetail) into warm cement to scrawl out my name, words, sentences, rudimentary poetry in wet dark green. Only to have it fade to pale as the day wore on.
I also recall what felt like entire summers in the pasture at my grandparents’ house in Randolph, Utah, and then, once we moved out to the country, in our own side pasture. Baseball was the game of choice. And I consider deprived any child who grew up not relying on cow pies for bases in always undermanned (and under-womanned) baseball games with siblings and cousins. IF we were lucky, the cow pies were sufficiently aged before use. If not, the green scuffs of manure weren’t that distinguishable from the green scuffs of grass on a well tanned leg or arm.
My grandparents also had a rusted old swing set out in that pasture. At least that’s what they thought it was. To us it was most generally a rocket ship. Long before the days of thrusters and warp speed, that ship could go anywhere. Days seemed both timeless and endless as we traveled distances and survived adventures limited only by our imaginations.
If you ventured out back and up the hill a little bit you would cross the old weathered bridge that spanned the creek (or crick, as it were). Beyond that stood worn and no longer used farm structures that, to us, made up an entire western town–more likely a ghost town. But we were smaller then, and the world seemed a much bigger place. I imagine if I visited today, I’d be somewhat saddened by its diminished size and expanse. In any case, we held animal-less rodeos, and lived out fictitious lives in the those dilapidated ruins.
All this in the matter of a dozen or so branding seasons spent with extended family. Up until our lives became real and complicated.
[Day 25 of Ann Dee Ellis’ 8-Minute Memoir.]