Sweetest days of childhood,
Playing in the deep woods,
Stomping through the creek
and feeling oh-so-much alive.
–Chris Rice “My Cathedral”
My cousin David and I spent much of our younger years outside playing. There were multiple different wooded areas around to play in, as well as a stream which eventually led to a large pond.
Near to our grandparents’ house, where we spent our youngest years, there was an evergreen that we used as one cabin. We would crawl under the branches and do I-don’t-remember-what. I do remember that we had knives out there which had been pilfered from the kitchen. I’m talking steak knives, not butter knives.
Across the road (a dead-end road, not busy at all) there was more forest. This area housed a very large tree with huge branches sticking straight out at regular intervals. Being from Maine you would think I could identify trees better than I do, but I have no idea what type of tree this was. It had huge branches…and needles instead of leaves, I think. This was the area of our second “cabin”, though we never had a cabin, just a neat area in the woods with a big tree.
On this same side of the road, wild blueberries grew. When bored, it was always a fun pastime to grab a bowl and go pick blueberries. They were the ones that grow on taller bushes, not closer to the ground like the ones you rake (some of you not from around blueberry parts may not know the difference, but I have worked each kind). I would not hazard a guess on how many made it into the bowl and then into the house as opposed to into the bowl then into our belly (or maybe just skip the bowl and go straight to the belly), but it is a good way to keep young children out of trouble for a while.
On the Nickerson Road, up the road closer to Route 46 there was yet another set of trees to play in. I’m not sure what type these were, either, but I think Dave might know. They were spread out more sparsely so there was plenty of room to play between. I remember one really deep hole (good for when you don’t want to go home to do your duty!), but that’s about all I remember about that area except just being there a lot. Smack-dab between these trees and the road were some grape trees. I don’t remember us having much luck with the grapes, though.
Down the bank behind our grandparents’ house ran the stream/brook/whatever you want to call it. It was pretty small, but there was a hose from it to the house by which water was pumped in. Seems rather unsanitary these days, but that water is the same that we used to take baths. At least the water heater would warm it up…a bit.
The stream had a fallen tree that spanned it (of course…every body of running water needs a fallen log spanning it) and we could climb over the log to get to a veritable desert island. Our ‘island’ was really a level area surrounded by the stream on one side and a very steep bank leading to someone’s house on the other side. It was nigh inaccessible except for our daring log-crossings. I don’t remember playing over there much, but it makes for great memories.