Most of my childhood was spent living seven miles south of a small college town in eastern South Dakota. Days in the summer were spent outside in the fields around our five acre plot, picking berries and vegetables in the garden (enthusiastically…some of the time) and strategically placing Breyer horse models and My Little Ponies in various little nooks and crannies around the homestead. Spring was muddy and wet, but that just meant there were streams in the back in which to splash. Fall was about apples and jumping in piles of leaves and waiting for the first snowflake. Winter was all about burrowing into the snow, sledding down the hills in the neighbor’s pasture and skating on the frozen cow pond. My brothers and I roamed.
My folks still live on that homestead, but when I was in the 4th grade, we packed up and moved a few states over to Indiana so my mom could finish up her graduate work at Purdue University. For three years we lived in a little gray house smack dab in the middle of a city. Instead of looking out the windows and seeing prairie grass and adolescent pine trees, we saw sidewalks and the houses across the street. We had an ally out back and neighbors. Lots of them. My parents turned most of our postage sized yard into a garden (of course), my dad made the tiny garage into a wood working shop and my mom blazed her way to a PH d in three short years, dissertation and all. And in the midst of the foreign cityscape and different pace of life, my brothers and I still roamed. It was 1990, and I was 10 years old. My twin brothers were 6 and the youngest was 4.
We spent hours in the back ally with the neighbor kids, we explored our immediate block on bikes and scooters, and we walked home from school. It was, of course, very different from the free play time we had on the South Dakota prairie, but there were ample adventures none the less. There was the time that one of the twins arrived home, breathless from jogging the last 4-5 blocks, to exclaim, “Big Jimmy’s sitting on Zan!” to my dad. Big Jimmy (age ~8 or so) was the neighborhood bully and my antagonistic sprite of a youngest brother had become his latest triumph. The situation was swiftly remedied (Big Jimmy was already gone by the time dad arrived) and the days went on. There were ramshackle forts to build next to the garage, trees to climb and little snits to get into with the pack of kids that roamed the block. And there was the time a strange man approached my brothers and I as we rounded the last corner to our house on the walk home from school. He invited us to get into his car, which is about all I can remember other than the fact that I said a firm no, grabbed my brothers’ hands, and we walked the rest of the way home.
Why am I telling these stories, you ask? Because that freedom to roam………Continue reading at enough……