The home I grew up in was the place a childs dreams are made of. Free range kids- from an age as young as five I would venture to guess. There was oceans and creeks to splash in, neighbors and dogs to venture off with, forts and man-hunt to escape to, shells and sea glass gather. It was spectacular. To the max.
I think about this and wonder was I truly this lucky? Or is this the magic of youth? Is is everywhere that you feel so alive when you are a child? Concrete jungles, and suburbia alike, aside from having a loving family to support you, I believe the answer is yes. Everywhere a child has the opportunity to play, they can and they do and they love it.
Truth be told, today was a rough morning. Despite the first night of sleep, all night sleep, that I have had in years, I awoke with a crank in my eye and a stubbornness on my shoulder. Of course I scowled at the morning walk at eight a.m and instead turned the darkness of my frown in a direction which I fully intended not to: my boys. Sigh… it is true. While I often don’t write about losing my temper and grace with my boys, of course it happens. I think it happens to all parents. And then the guilt that ensues is most likely across the board as well.
So, after thoroughly making a fool of myself, bickering with a three-year old and pleading with a one and a half-year old, I mustered up the energy to clothe my children and myself, grab a backpack and a camera and a jar of peanuts and announce we were heading outside for a hike. The weather around here has been absolute perfection. Not a bug on the radar, cool breezes and rustling leaves a constant, and the smell of the earth is fresh and decaying. With each step outdoors my morning funk began to flake away.
Our path is beginning to wear away into something noticeable. The tree’s that mark the path and the plants that wind around it are becoming quite familiar. Holes in the ground, piles of bricks, mountains of old glass bottles, and downed trees are all points on the map the three of us are beginning to memorize. With this walk through the woods today I was reminded of a land I once knew so well. Selentania.
Oh, this place was magic. A few girlfriends and I were so deeply immersed in this world that we actually had vivid dreams about the future of our kingdom in which we called each other at any hour to detail out. We spent all our free time out there. Rain or shine we mucked through the forest and later on slinging mud onto our mothers kitchen floors. It wasn’t just a fort, it was Our Country.
There was a small path through my back yard, which led to the “back back yard” and off the side, just over a small creek, was a twisted vine so large it was our playground apparatus. Then further back was where we built our castle. It was simple but fulfilling. No nails or hammers were even used come to think of it. (Meanwhile my brothers forts were so intricate his had grand plans of a screened in porch. Perhaps this is the difference between boys and girls, perhaps it is just the difference between him and I though too. But, I will say Miles carried a “chainsaw” around with him all morning…)
So while my boys are still so small, just learning to avoid prickers and keep a look out for snakes and such, this type of adventure compares to nothing else. I saw the twinkle in my boys eyes when we cleared way for Their Land today. The hard work of dragging logs through the forest thrilled them. Sticks in the earth were candles on a cake, leaves were toys and figures which I could not even understand their imaginations were so far from my reach.
Of course I have to teach these boys to be kind and how to hold a fork and use the potty. But their task of teaching me to see the glory of the world around is much more intense and valid. It is so very real and I am so grateful for each lesson.