Friday, February 17, 2012

Childhood Memory Time

Another post based on a prompt from Mama Kat's Pretty Much World Famous Writer's Workshop. Today's topic: Childhood Memory Time - Write about something you loved to do as a child.

The first thing that popped into my head when I saw this topic was what it was like growing up on my grandparents' farm.

We lived next door to my grandparents on their farm. It was a great place to grow up. Not only were Grandma and Grandpa right next door (making a great place for sleepovers or just to "run away" when you felt life was unfair at home - my kids sure wish they could run to Grandma and Grandpa every time they feel life at home is no fun!), but we also had 80 acres of fields and pastures to roam.

We could spend all day tramping through the fields. 80 acres is a lot of space to wander and you could take off with siblings or cousins and just get yourself lost for a while. (Though I don't remember ever actually getting lost - I always knew how to get home.) My favorite thing to do was to take a book and head to the alfalfa fields when the grass was really tall right before haying season. I'd stomp the alfalfa down to make myself a little "room" and stay there all day reading my book. Grandpa was kind enough to overlook his smashed hay most of the time... until I started getting a little too creative and stomping out an entire suite of interconnected rooms. Eventually he had to put a stop to it so there would be some hay left to bale!

We went fishing in the pond - even though the only thing to catch were tiny sunfish, we thought we were pretty cool when we would bring home our catch. Now that I think about it though, I don't recall ever eating sunfish for dinner. Maybe the cats got a treat when we went fishing!

We could visit the chickens, cows or pigs - though mostly we didn't because chickens and pigs smell pretty bad and it's not like they're pets to play with. And while cows smell better, let's face it, they don't do much. Mostly the cows did their thing and we did ours. Grandpa often moved the cows around to different sections of the fields to ensure that no one section got overgrazed, so you never really knew where you would come across the herd of cows. No big deal in most cases. Cows are pretty gentle and calm and willing to ignore you. So we'd just make our way through the herd to wherever we were headed. The exception, though, was Hot Dog the cow. I don't know why her name was Hot Dog, that's just what we called her. She was a big, light brown cow with big, sharp horns. At any rate, that's how I remember it. In reality, the horns may have been small and dull. Or for that matter, might not have existed at all! But in my memories, Hot Dog had some frightening horns. When Hot Dog spotted us, she would come charging over to scare us away. So we were always on the lookout for Hot Dog.

We would climb the stacked hay bales and then jump off into the hay that had come loose from the bales. It was fun, but so itchy! Whenever I see or read a scene where you have people who decide to get "romantic" in the hay (why did this become such a cliche?) all I can think about it how itchy they're going to be from rolling around in that hay. Yikes! Don't take your clothes off in there! You're going to be rashy all over!

There was a long creek wandering through the property. One section of the creek was wide and slow-moving and great for gathering watercress. I remember picking the watercress and taking it back to Grandma's to make watercress sandwiches for lunch. As it went along, the creek went under a bridge at the bottom of a hill. We used that hill for sledding in the winter and the trick was to steer the sled just right so that you could make it across the bridge. Otherwise you had to bail off the sled at the last moment to avoid going off the edge into the creek! Another part of the creek had carved out a deep gully. Grandpa had thoughfully installed a rope swing here, so there was a lot of time spent there. I remember climb to the top of the gulley, hauling that big heavy rope with you. When you got to the top, you straddled the rope - wrapping your legs around the big knot at the end, clutching the rope above with all your might... and then getting the courage to make the leap off the firm ground. Breathless... weightless... that first moment of free-falling was exhilarating and terrifying. And then the snap as the rope hit its end and gravity kicked in again. Swinging up on the far side of the gulley and trying to hit the trees over there. Swinging back and forth until you finally came to a stop at the bottom of the gulley and hopping off the swing into the shallow creek below. Only to start the climb back to the top to do it all again.

Thinking back on it now, it was a pretty idyllic existence. Thanks, Mama Kat for helping remember some of those good times. :)

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