I never thought that I would reach a day when I'd look back to when I was 8 years old, and feel a deep reminiscing come over me.
However, lately I have been reminiscing about my childhood favorite activities SO MUCH.
As a child, I was a follower. I rarely came up with games to play on my own. I followed my siblings' ideas and plans. And with four sisters and one brother to play with (my older brother was already involved in politics and debate teams when I was around this age, so he didn't play with us much), I had a great group of creative comrades.
Our barn was a decent size, with a large hay room, and loft as well as the pens and stalls inside.
I don't have a picture of the barn, but the loft looked something like this, with beams of different heights.
In the late summer, my parents would purchase a lot of big, round hay bales. I never actually counted them, but it filled up the whole room, and the bales went quite close to the ceiling. From the very day that the hay arrived, Katie, Sarah, Martha, Lydia, Oliver and myself would spend all evening in the barn, playing in the hay. I never kept track of time...but many days, we would all go outside after we were all finished with school, chores and piano practice, and we wouldn't come inside again until it was well after dark.
Each hay season, we would put on an original "musical" or "play" written by Katie and Sarah. These usually included many fancy somersaults and jumps, choreographed original songs, and a plot. At least two of these plays I was privileged to play the part of a wicked person, or some such devious character. I remember this because as we held auditions once in the hay loft, though I wasn't very talented as a solo singer (like Lydia), or brave enough to climb the highest beams (like Sarah), I had an ability to use my diaphragm and force out a truly evil-sounding laugh (or cackle).
Call it a co-incidence, but none of us are allergic to hay that I know of to this day.
The property I grew up on was located at the bottom of a hill, right beside a cemetery. Often, when it would rain for a length of time, the water would run down both sides of the road in the gutters and dump right into our cow pasture, past the barn. Between the pasture and the cemetery was a large drain and a sort of little creek.
I always got so excited when I would go to bed and it was raining heavily. I would wake up, hoping that it was still raining. If it was, I would hope that it would continue until after we were all finished with school and free to play.
After school, chores and piano, we would all pull our rain boots on.
As I recall, we would play outside until we were soaked. I don't remember a single time going to the creek and the drain, but I know that Sarah, Martha and Katie did. I don't know if mommy had a rule about the younger children not being near the creek or whether I was just too scared to go near it. But I mostly just remember the feeling of walking in sludge, mud, and even cow manure, and sometimes having your boot get stuck.
It was never a guarantee that your boot was without holes too. Why was that so much fun? I don't know...but it clearly impacted me a lot. I'm still thinking about it.
The last reminiscent activity I'll mention in this post can be explained in just this one picture.
In the cow pasture, near the road, we had a wild mulberry tree. I ate so many mulberries each spring and early summer...
But many times, we wouldn't eat the mulberries, but would use them as war-paint for our faces. I can only imagine what our neighbors thought when they saw six children running around our property with faces completely painted with mulberry juice, in different designs. We stopped eating them after so long in the mulberry season because we discovered that the berries carried tiny white worms.
Bear with me as I reminisce about my favorite childhood activities. When I ask many children today what their favorite things to do are, it is rare that the things they list are creative, healthy OR imaginative.
I think that could be part of the reason why I enjoy reminiscing about my own childhood. It wasn't perfect, and times weren't always rosy and exciting, but I'm grateful to have these amazing, fond memories.
What did you do for fun as a child? Think about it sometime...