The Good Old Days

March 8, 2011
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Those were the good days. The ones with gaping prairies, enveloping forests, and feral animals. No worries and no thoughts about tomorrow, only the present and what might be inside of that little treasure. It was always a surprise, no doubt. Whether being caught up in a tornado or swept along in a river, it didn't matter; it was Indiana.

This rural and rugged terrain was indubitably created only for the tough and daring, for if one wasn't careful, life could be slipping away and no one was close enough to come to your aid. A good question to ask yourself is why would a mere child be living in this awful area. Of course, it all results from a whimsical decision cast by the parents to live a little and enjoy life while you still have it.

My best friend back then was a kid named Trevor, a freckle-faced, straw-haired kid. I can't recall his last name, but I clearly remember where we both lived. My family's property was located between a varmint-infested forest, a pristine cut golf course, a shimmering azure lake, and an engorged corn field. Trevor was farther North and his family owned many acres more than we did, since they had lived there longer.

Sweeping all over Trevor's run-down yard were weeping willows that dangled mournfully over a bumpy dirt field, which had plenty of ditches and knolls to play around. Their branches often preferred to hang on top of some of these holes, and while marching forward on top of the leaves laying listlessly upon them, we were immediately engulfed in these openings, punching painfully into the bottom. Only by climbing those treacherous trees could we get out.

A decrepit barn, the red paint peeling pitifully off the sides, was off to the left of the jungle of willows. The ceiling was missing, so dares to climb along the rafters were often prevalent. Massive sheets of barbed wire, intended to be used for a fence, were put up against the side of the barn. Trying to jump over the razor sharp spikes and onto the hanging branches of a tree nearby was one more challenge that we had to confront. Once, Trevor messed up and slipped, his leg catching in the wire while his momentum brought him swinging into the rolled up spines, resulting in them piercing every part of his body. His forehead took the worst of it, with quarter-inch daggers impaling him and causing blood to drip as he dangled upside down. Stitches were required.

The barn contained more than just barbed wire, however. Some inhabitants of that barn were more kind than others. The goats and chickens got along fine with us, but those turkeys, they were unnaturally evil. Multiple times we had been chased away and pecked at for getting too close to their territory. The goats would let us ride them all over the place, but if you stayed on too long they tended to get grumpy. On one occasion a goat named Friday rammed me into some prickly tree, forcing me to fall off right into a pile of chicken poop. Maybe the goats and chickens planned it, because Trevor and I used to find chicken eggs hidden in multiple nooks and crannies. We took it upon ourselves to play dodge-ball with these eggs, while at the same time keeping the chicken population to a minimum. More often than not we came back drenched in egg yolks.

My childhood is composed of these riotous yet tender moments. Whether swimming after catfish or simply laying in the sand on a turtle-colonized beach, it was always fun, with not a moment of boredom to it. Sometimes even the most simple of things can result in the greatest entertainments. No person is deemed an intelligent species if they don't have those memories that shape them into what they will become. City people can never understand what living on and off the land is like, while I could in no way grasp what living in New York would resemble. Our youth shapes us into what we will become. Through all those cherished, and sometimes despised childhood moments, life is given meaning. Maybe not for civilization as a whole, but most definitely for an individual like me.

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