It’s Monday and I’m mulling. Or maybe I’m pondering. Nothing heavy. Because it’s Monday.
The hubs photo of the Sno-Ball stand is what started the mulling and the pondering. Or maybe it nudged some that had been lingering at the back of my mind.
Where I grew up (northern Wyoming), we called them snow cones, not Sno-Balls. But that’s not really the point.
Yummy tasting stuff squirted onto shaved or crushed ice on a hot day=divine. I can close my eyes and suddenly I’m back there. I can feel the heat beating against my skin and hear the hum of bees and mosquitos. I grew up close to the city swimming pool, so I can add in the pool chatter, the sounds of splashing. The squeak of the metal chains that supported swings that didn’t pinch your bum cheeks together. Our swing seats were nice boards you could sit on and pump into real motion—enough so you felt like you could fly.
Back in the olden days (I did mention I am old, right?), play was often far from safe. We had merry-go-rounds that would go fast enough to send you flying. Swings that took you high enough to send you flying. Slides that were high enough to build enough speed to, wait for it, send you flying.
Thinking back, yeah, a lot of the stuff we played on could send you flying. Or severely damage parts of your body if you lost focus. Which we did a lot. I spent most of my early years with scraps on knees and elbows. I still have a scar on my right hand (which is very helpful for quickly telling which is my right hand. Don’t judge. I understand it is an actual, though mild, learning disability.) from when I was ice skating and fell. There was a broken beer bottle under the snow. I know it was a beer bottle because of the color of the glass the doctor dug out. Another piece emerged some years later that I thought was very cool at the time.)
We played with rattlesnakes and cooked potatoes on campfires by the river—while we played in and around the river. We climbed things we shouldn’t and slid down those things, putting holes in the seat of pants, in the knees of our pants, and in our knees.
I know there were chores. There were six of us and my mom had a tough job. I know we went to school, but I try not to think about that. Mostly I remember playing long, playing hard, and arriving at home in the evening happily exhausted and covered with so much dirt we turned the bathwater brown.
I had toys. Barbies, Liddle Kiddles and Matchbox cars and stuff. Toys. But mostly we ran, rode bikes, roller skated (yes, I had a key), climbed trees, and built tents on the clothesline (who remembers those?), and yes, I spent a lot of time on a blanket spread out in the shade reading. And reading. And reading some more.
Those stories would filter how my friends and I played. There was the real world around us, and then there was the world we saw. The brick flower boxes in front of our houses were actually castles. And the school bleachers were castles and towers and space ships and, well, anything we wanted them to be.
I drive by playgrounds and even now I’ll slow down and feel the pull. There are some pretty cool ones. Elaborate (and carefully safe), brightly colored structures and those swings that pinch your cheeks (okay, so I may have tried one or two). The rockets and castle-ness are built in and they look fun.
But I wonder…do they fuel creativity? Or do they limit it?
I honestly don’t know.
I know I had a wonderful childhood. Magical even. I grew up in a small town where everyone knew, not just my name, but my parents’ phone number. We had a lot of freedom to roam and explore and dream and wonder.
The world has gotten a lot more dangerous, even in my small town. And I wonder, do kids still have magic and wonder and fun?
I hope so. I can’t tell you how much I hope so.
What do you think? Tell me about your childhood. What was great? What wasn’t so great? I love comments so much that I pick a favorite to receive my monthly AnaBanana gift basket ($25 value). Recipient is announced the first blog post of the new month.
P.S. In The Key, Sara has a rather tragic childhood, which would probably mean something to a shrink. Or maybe the writer in me just knows that tragic childhoods fuel more dramatic conflict than happy ones? You be the judge. You can read the first part for free or get the whole book right this minute. Really. Though not free. That’s just the first part.