Today's memory prompt from The Red Dress Club is something from childhood.
I thought I would go back to when my brothers and I were running around outside, a lot. I think one of the few things that helped my parents keep their sanity with 4 children, is our love of the outdoors.
"Go outside and play!"
This was a phrase my mother would say, or exclaim, or utter with exhaustion on a regular basis growing up. You see, my two older brothers and I were all born within about three years of each other. Yep, that's a lot of diapers all at once. Seven years later, when we were pretty self sufficient, my baby sister came along. So now my parents had a handful of noisy children and a baby who needed a nap.
So out we would go. Sunny days, rainy afternoons (on the porch or in the garage), summer nights, even snow days - we had the appropriate gear for everything. A few of our favorite destinations were in the woods beyond our back yard. They seemed to go on forever, but at that time it was probably about a mile and a half. To us, it was just about to heaven.
There were two creeks. The first creek was barely noticeable, unless we'd had a really good rain. Even with my shorter legs, I could easy jump the creek and get through the woods with boys (my brothers were always quite long-legged). This creek was just out of sight of the house, but within hollering range of the end of the back yard. Some days that was the limit of how far we were allowed to play. If it was getting dark, it looked like a storm was rolling in, or Mom just wanted to know she could call us back at will.
Then there was the second creek. It took a trek to get back to this creek and it was worth every step. It was big and bold (to us little rugrats) and it had tadpoles! There were also gigantic blackberry bushes. We would bring our sand pails and fill them until our arms got tired. It only took one or two berry picking sessions to remember to wear longs sleeves for that adventure.
But the funniest thing that I remember from all of those years ago, is the path through the woods back to the creeks. I can still picture it in my mind. At the beginning of each spring, the path was a little overgrown, so we would walk it over and over again to stamp it down. All the kids on our street knew the way to the second creek. That's what we always called it, the second creek. We never needed a fancy name for it, no directions on how to get there, we just knew. After the quick path from the yard to the first creek, which was pretty open and obvious, you had to go up a little hill and through a series of snaking curves. I'm sure it was not the most efficient way to the second creek, but it was the one we used every single year. There were no artificial markings, just tree layouts and fallen wood to show us the way. I always listed for the rushing water, and gauged just how much further it was to the creek. It was easier after rain, and sometimes in the late summer I remember thinking it took much longer to get to the creek. Really, it was because the creek was smaller and quieter, not overflowing the floodplains anymore. Oh, and it was hot and sticky by then.
We moved out of that house on Sunset Drive when I was in high school and although we only moved a few streets over, there were no more woods or creeks. I'm sure the four boys that ended up living in that first house carried on the tradition of playing in the creeks, until "progress" caused the the second creek to be transformed into a housing development. It doesn't matter, because in my mind there will always be that wooded path to the second creek.