By Dennis Richardson, Magic Valley Publishing
Reading over what I wrote in last week’s column stirred me to recall even more stuff that today’s kids could be missing out on.
What did we do when we were “banished” to the outdoors all day long?
The woods encompassed three sides of our property. The fourth side was a cow pasture owned by the neighbor. Since our land sat on a ridge all the other sides went down into a valley. Except the back side. It ended on a cliff overlooking a community below with more cow pastures. Those cows are another story altogether. The cow pasture beside us was on about a 45 degree slant and had me wondering if those cows could have longer legs on one side in order to stand up straight. I know they did not but that would’ve been handy. The old bull kept them all in close check and eyeballed me every time I walked near to the fence.
Kids live outdoors. Until supper time at least.
Some mornings while waiting on the school bus I would pick up a dead branch from one of the oak trees and gather some small rocks from the bottom of our driveway and try to hit them over the tree line at the bottom of the hill, across the cow pasture. I don’t recall hitting any of the cows but they probably wondered why rocks seemed to be falling from the sky.
The only things that could be found “on line” were the clothes hung out to dry in the breezes. Anyone who ran through the yard was liable to be taught real-life lessons on the reality of “clothes-line tackles”
Warm summer days exploring what we imagined as “Indian mounds” and looking for arrow heads usually brought with it at least one encounter of finding an old tree stump for an outhouse. There was no fear of running out of toilet paper with all the tree leaves handy.
We became pretty good meteorologists, too. We learned to smell the rain before it got to us. If we couldn’t get back inside in time those big hickory and oak trees offered good shelter.
Somewhere at the bottom of the hill across the road lies the remains of an old log cabin that brother Jim and I started building. Trees were cut with an axe. We got the sides up and stuffed leaves in between the logs, but never finished it. Later explorers could have fun imagining what pioneers had built this house that only had walls remaining.
It is easy to get turned around in the woods when we got out of sight of the roadway. Jim taught me how to mark the trees with his hatchet so we could find our way back. Those were fun days exploring the woods and walking the creek beds.
By the end of the day we had worked up quite an appetite and gobbled up whatever dinner was prepared at the table.
We ate together as a family then enjoyed the evening together. Summer evenings were typically spent shucking corn and breaking beans. Lots of good conversations developed from this togetherness.
Dennis Richardson is the CEO of Magic Valley Publishing, Inc., which owns the Chester County Independent.