A creek ran through the middle of my friends hay farm, which happened to be in the middle of residential development in our small hometown. It was our dreamland, a special place that set stage for our imaginations to grow as fast as the hay, as tall as the Cottonwood trees and to run wild with the wind.
This is where my deep connection to nature grew. The creek side was a place where we noticed the passage of the seasons. We had private swimming and fishing holes, and skating in the winter. Most importantly, we learned to respect the risky dangers of thin ice and high waters. Our special place had not changed, like the subdivisions that surrounded it.
However, I remember the conscious awareness that something in the creek was changing. Not only were there less fish to catch, but there appeared to be more water moss growing, making the creek more slippery to walk in. As young children, we analysed why this was happening, as we had learned about Pollution in school. We wondered if perhaps it was the housing development up the creek and across from our school. Sadly, one spring, I also remember the shock of seeing a large Turtle shell the size of a platter, as well as garbage in and along the creek. The emotional awareness of pollution in my environment settled into my life.
One spring we enthusiastically worked to free a pallet that was stuck along the creek side, due to the high waters from the early spring melt. We had a dream to build a raft and sail away to float down the creek, maybe even right out of town! We gathered nails, hammers and more scrap wood. All the while, we imagined the story, developed our characters, and played out the variations within the storyline. Unknowingly, the pallet was water sodden and no matter how much wood we hammered on top, we could not get the structure to float. We worked on this for possibly days, if not a few weeks. The dream was only surrendered after trial and error. That was okay, because there were always other adventures to take its place.
I took my boys back to my special place and shared with them, some stories of the place where I grew up and played. The old Victorian house was gone. All that was left of my friends’ property was the outline of the circular driveway with the hedge and Cottonwood trees still present in the middle. New houses lined up on what was once the hay field. As my boys ran ahead, my mind was swept away to visions of the past, sensing 2 young girls riding rickety saw horses at sunset, pretending we were galloping over the field far, far, away.
This weekend my Grandfather passed away independently in his home, while I was writing this story in rough draft. I found myself crying as my memories had ventured off to the stories he told about himself and my Grandma growing up along the same creek. In their childhood, the creek water level was much higher. Once he skipped out from school with his friends and went skinny-dipping in the creek. They were surprised the schoolteacher found and caught them! My Grandpa's stories told me it really was possible to float away down the creek and out of town! The fish were bigger too!
Refill your coffee mug and sit down to watch these brief videos.
No Child Left Inside Coalition 2008-11-25
and scenes from , ‘The Lorax’, Dr Suess
What did you dream of doing in your childhood?
In what ways have you fulfilled or explored those ideas,