It's sad to admit but, I spent the first half of my adult life trying to leave behind the "country girl" label, somehow thinking it a bad thing that I grew up in the country. As if growing up in a small rural community made me less intelligent or sheltered. I know this sounds completely crazy, but I was embarrassed to be from a small town.
Thing is, I long for those days back so much more these days. I don't know if it's due to the raw emotions of being nearly 8 months pregnant and the nesting instinct is in full force, but I would LOVE to raise our children with the freedom and creativity I had as a child. While this change of heart isn't really all that new (growing stronger over the past 3 years), it sure is beating me up this morning (or maybe that is just Maggie's kicks:).
When I think of "home" I can see clearly our simple, well treed land of 5 acres, 1 mile west of Anola, MB. I remember the long thin driveway, a huge front yard with two enormous trees off to one side that would drop acorns for the squirrels (a pain on bare feet). The other side of the drive was lined with evergreens that began just as small as I, but grew quickly to reach far above my head. Nestled in them, my Father had built a playhouse that was never really appreciated properly for it's great craftsmanship. The sandbox he built had a roof so we could even play in the rain (and tan upon as a teen). We had a large garden full of all the fresh veggies we could eat (corn, carrots, rhubarb, beets, cucumbers, onions and more I'm sure). There was a really neat swing set and animals (pets only); horses, dogs, cats, rabbits that kept us busy as well. What more could a child really ask for to stimulate their creative side?
A typical summer day would start with a quick breakfast (cereal with fresh milk from a nearby farm) before heading out into the crisp, yet warm summer day. We would spend the whole day outside. Usually the sandbox was the first stop. It was a large one and my younger brother and I would spend the morning building the city (well I would build and he would play, but I didn't mind). We built tunnels and roads that led to great castles where battles would take out entire sections of a city. Morning snack time would take us to front of the house where Mom was filling the kiddie pool (if it wasn't full already) and we would watch the water ripple, excited that we would soon need to get refreshed in it's coolness. Then off to the swings. I enjoyed the swinging monkey bar the best and spent a lot of time upside down. We would swing as high as we could until the posts would bump out of the ground a bit and startle us into slowing.
Before long lunch was ready (simple sandwiches, cheese and crackers mostly) and our swimsuits were brought out. We ate quickly, excited to jump in the pool at last! After cooling off my brother and I would go on our adventures or (if he was napping, then I would get to help Mom with the garden or yard work). Together, Darren and I would make up outrageous stories as we traveled through our yard into imaginary lands of wonder. The surrounding trees and swamp made for even more exciting stories as we grew old enough to explore further. I tell these same stories to Owen from time to time. He loves them and I can see that he wishes he could have been there with us. Then there was bike riding; racing up and down the driveway until we were breathless and then back to the garden for a snack of rhubarb and sugar for dipping (yum).
We would have a blast (no wonder Mom was able to get us into bed so early)! As we grew older and were allowed to stay up later, we would run around the yard and catch fireflies in the darkness or hang out with the adults at by the fire pit, mesmerized by the licking flames. It was truly a blessed life and I had no idea how good it was. It's no wonder my heart longs to have this life for our children.
The family is off again to Richer for a few days. So we are praying for warm days and cool nights and safety for the children as they embark on their own rural life adventures. For now it will have to be at Grandma's but maybe, someday, as God guides our lives, they can have their own special memories of country living. I wonder what my Mom remembers of those days. I'll have to ask...