Sunday, August 9, 2009

Field Day

Dear Mom,

As I was winding my way around country roads, seeking the perfect spot to relocate the raccoons and possums I keep catching- you know someplace they would be safe and happy, but far enough away that they would become roadkill before they found their way back to my backyard, and I know, I know!, it makes no sense that I am humanely trapping and relocating an animal that I would prefer got hit by a car before it came back here to live - I stumbled upon the future home of a park. Perfect. Creek, weeds, trees.

When I saw that a path had been mowed into the "park" and then couldn't stop thinking about it, I started wondering why. Why is it that a grassy path with high weeds, Queens Anne's lace and thorns was calling to me?

Because some of the best parts of growing up on Harmony Road were spent playing in the fields. We could build forts, wander to our hearts delight, climb the biggest best tree in the world, a tree so beloved it was named and every kid in the neighborhood knew Harry. Heck, every kid in the neighborhood could probably have fit into Harry. Harry was better than any playground. With a low hanging branch perfect for sitting on, several of us could push off the ground with our dusty Keds and swing straight up high into the air. Harry had the thick, low and perfectly spaced branches that made for perfect climbing. We discovered a nest of baby mice beneath that tree and all of us checked on the mice, careful not to disturb them as we climbed and played.

We forged paths through the grass, some paths worn down enough that we could ride our bikes through the field. One of the older girls had scavenged discarded building materials and constructed an underground fort for herself that was so totally off limits to everyone and we were so scared of her that we all stayed away. Except for one time. I can remember we were all feeling brave, (and probably because we knew she wasn't home or something) and dared to investigate the underground sanctuary. I don't remember too much about it, I think because I was looking for booby-traps to really notice anything about the fort.

We came home tired and sweaty and sun-kissed. Tick discovery and removal, while not routine, was no cause for panic, and just part of playing in the fields. And every so often, in the heat of the summer, and probably 'cause some kids went to the field to play with matches, the field would catch on fire. The Dads would all go out and beat the fire with brooms and spray it with garden hoses. Harmony Road's Volunteer Fire Dept.

We were free in those fields, no one had to keep an eye on us, and we could disappear as long as we were home for lunch and dinner, knowing to head for home when we heard the church bells rang at noon and 5 o'clock.

So, as an adult, with open fields like that disappearing, I couldn't wait to get out on that grassy path. This was a place I could take the dog and let him off his leash. A place he could run ahead and sniff and wait for me to catch up. A place I could only hear birds and bugs chirping and a farm tractor running. I place I could wander into and not see the road, or my car, or another person.

I could almost disappear. Except as a responsible adult and former Girl Scout (Be Prepared!), I did have my cell phone in my pocket. Just in case. Which I was glad I had when I stepped into a deep hole and fell down like a toddler taking her first steps. "What if I had broken my leg?", I thought. "See, it is a good thing you brought your phone!"

I found thorny wild black raspberry bushes.

(Edited to add: I have been told that these are blackberry bushes and would make great jam. If only I made jam...... Kim 8-10-09)

And could appreciate the beauty of "weeds" that I would never want growing in my own yard.

And I will be going back.