I grew up way out in the boonies on County Road 2124. I have such vivid memories of living there. [Note: You probably have to be a native East Texan to understand the definition of boonies. If you’re not from here, google it.]
I rode my bike down our very long driveway during the summers (and farther if I could get away with it before my parents caught me). I don’t think that they were concerned about bad guys snatching me; they were worried about the wild animals in the woods coming out and getting me. It wasn’t uncommon for us to see coyotes, raccoons, opossums, feral cats and all manner of other wild creatures.
I remember building a fort under the parallel clotheslines that ran across my backyard. If you had a blanket big enough to cross both lines, you could create a roof that play dishes and small chairs could fit underneath for a sweet little tea party.
I remember creating relay races with friends from the swing set to the butane tank to the clothesline pole to the basketball goal and back.
I remember sitting outside to read a book on the back porch swing. My sisters liked to lie out and attempt to get a tan, but that never appealed to me. After all, lying in the hot sun meant sweating. No thanks!
I remember exploring through the woods without a care in the world. Floating styrofoam meat trays down the stream with a Barbie on top, searching for flowers and moss, imagining bears and wolves and other scary creatures with every creaking branch or rustling leaf noise.
I remember taking long walks to think through things in life. I bet those trees and leaves heard more about my problems than many of my friends did.
I remember climbing the huge magnolia tree in the front yard. My sisters and I routinely scared my mother to death when we’d call to her from the very tip-top branches. That was only on the days that we didn’t climb the TV antenna to walk around on the roof. (Somehow we all survived childhood without a single broken bone.)
I remember sitting under the trees to make mud pies while it rained. Scooping gloppy mud, stirring it with a stick, decorating the top with rocks and twigs in one of mom’s best Tupperware containers was such fun!
It saddens me to know that my children’s childhoods are quite different than mine. Of course, with the passage of time, things change. People change. Circumstances change. They don’t spend nearly as much time outdoors as I did. Aside from the pull of things to do indoors, there is also the fear for their safety if they’re outside alone for long periods of time. These days you can’t be too careful about the safety of your children. There are lots of crazy people out there who would love to hurt unattended young people. Having a husband in law enforcement has brought that to light for me. Fortunately my kids are older now and it is a little easier to let them walk around the block with a friend or sibling without worrying quite as much. But make no mistake, this sweet natured, calm, patient, even tempered Christian mama will turn into a growling, angry, mean bear when my cubs are threatened.
I suppose my children won’t grow up with memories of the kind of outdoor adventures my childhood held. Their memories will include electronics, game nights with our family, service to their family, church and community and LOTS of laughter. Their memories will include life with their siblings (arguments and all), time spent in celebration and in grief, pets and neighborhood friends. And that is okay. Joy comes in different packages for each person.