I grew up on a small farm in Pennsylvania. We had 15 acres which housed fields, woods, marsh, and ponds. There was a hill in the backyard which was perfect for sledding and at the bottom was our manmade duck pond, barn, chicken coop,and cornhutch. In on of our fields was a solitary hill which rightfully earned the name, “The Lump”, complete with trees. It wasn’t a farm for income but mainly for teaching us kids responsibility. I guess it has something to do with dragging your kids out of bed at 6:00 in the morning in the dead of winter to feed the animals and break the ice out of the water buckets before leaving for school. That farm holds a myriad of memories.
I was a swimmer, I dearly loved the water and any chance I had to take a plunge I did. I think I gave my mother grief by constantly diving into the nearest body of water, suited or not. One hot summer day, I believe I was around 4 or 5, shortly after my dad and brother had dug the duck pond (with some mechanical help I believe) I was dearly wishing I had a way to cool off.
My two older brothers sauntered up to me, “Why don’t you go for a swim in the pond, that’s what its there for.”
I eyed them warily, “I thought it was for the ducks. It’s awfully dirty.”
“It’s not that bad. If it’s good enough for the ducks, its good enough for you.”
Now that comment would typically set off warning bells, but to a five-year-old-water-lover it was a green light. It never occurred to me to ask, “Then why aren’t you swimming?” I just dove in clothes and all and swam happily for quite some time. This was not a clean pond, it was quite disgusting really. I was so proud of myself afterwards and so excited that I ran up the hill to the house calling for mom. She came out and seemed to look around for her youngest daughter but all she could see was a disgusting mud and duck poop ball.
“You didn’t! You did!” she gasped in horror.
I was not permitted to set one toe in the house and was immediately hosed down, for probably a good 10 minutes. I never swam in the pond again but it didn’t deter us from having the occasional barrel race. We had these big empty metal oil drums that we would float in the water and sit on then we would paddle across. I’m sure we fell in from time to time. We just changed and hosed off or bathed before mom could catch us. 🙂
I wasn’t always in trouble, and most of my trouble was innocent happenstance. Being the youngest though I was often underfoot. I had two older sisters and two older brothers and often found myself the oddball out and would attach myself to my mom.
It was fall, and I was 3 and we had just sent everyone off to school and I was moping because I didn’t get to go yet. My mom is a genius, taught school for a long time, and knows tons of things about bugs and animals that kids love to know about. She is very creative and is always ready to whip something out of her sleeve. To me it was nothing short of magical, and sure enough on this fall day she worked her magic. She pulled out the little red wagon, a lunchbox (which I was sure there was something yummy in there), and some shears. Then she put my hair in pigtails and I put on my red sweater and we headed off across our field to the woods. I insisted numerous times to know what we were doing, but she kept her secret locked away. The woods were ripe with color and I delighted in the numerous colors and leaves I found as we entered through our gate.
“We are going to make a path” my mom said. And we set to work. She cut branches and underbrush away and I piled it into the wagon. After sometime I was visibly wearing down.
“I think there is buried treasure here” Mom said.
My eyes glowed and I scanned the ground, “There! By the tree!” We walked off the path a little ways and mom provided a small shovel and we dug a hole big enough to line with rock and fit the lunch box in. We pretended we were pirates who had just found a secret treasure. I eagerly opened the lunchbox, “Chocolate!!” I was so excited I almost passed over the real treasure but my mother guided me back to it. There lying in the bottom of the lunch box was a Book of Mormon. We sat down on the side of the trail, and I ate my chocolate while my mom read to me. When we were done we boxed everything up and buried it, for another day.
I don’t know if that box is still there, or if I would even recognize the spot. We went back to it frequently, each time on some adventure or magical journey. The real magic is in the memory and the love. So don’t be surprised if you visit my house and find my back yard full of holes. 🙂