Thursday, May 24, 2012

Running Free Through Fields

When I was a kid, there were fields and woods and plenty of open spaces to wander. My brother and I rode bikes with our friends, making dirt paths through fields of thistle, Queen Anne's lace, and blackberry bushes. If there was a mud puddle, we stomped in it. If there was a hill, we pushed each other off of it. We spent our summers getting sunburned, digging for earthworms and catching honeybees in jars.

My children didn't have this childhood.

Theirs was spent playing video games and walking through neighborhoods. Their time outside has been limited to organized games on manicured lawns. I can count on one hand the number of times they've rolled down a grassy hill or climbed a tree. That's just not what childhood was like for them. They don't know every inch of our backyard the way my brother and I did as kids. We knew every anthill and patch of thorny grass. We were out there every day.

So last night when we took the dog on a walk along a canal backed by roaming fields, I was thrilled when my daughter branched off of the path and ran to a patch of mud to look for frogs. I was elated when we ran through an unavoidable marshy mess of mud and had splatters all the way up our legs and back. Once dirty, there was no stopping us. We tromped through the fields in much the way I did as a kid, breathing in the scent of wild carrot, thistle, and earth. I let the dog off his leash and let him run. We all ran. We needed that.

Then, finally, we headed back to the walking path. The leash went back on. Our steps were more measured, but our smiles were huge. And then my daughter said those magic words: I love being outside. So we're going again tomorrow.


  1. This post brought a smile to my face. :)

    I think you're right: I think we all need to let ourselves "off-leash" more often.

  2. You kids were lucky; I was lucky, too. Neighborhoods like we had are practically non-existent anymore. I blame it on video/internet, people thinking they're yards and McMansions have to look perfect(ly) like the next guy's, and perverts running free!

  3. I grew up the same way you did. We didn't have video games, colour television was basic and had only 5 stations, the library was only open for 3 hours on Saturdays and then we had to socialise with the kids in our street.

    I remember riding my bike until I was exhausted, playing soccer with my brother (because he needed the practice), roller skating at the empty carparks of the shopping centre down the road (because they closed at 1pm on Saturdays and not at all on Sundays). Then, we'd play with the other kids around in our front yard, playing games like Tiggy, Statues and making a pyramid like the cheer leaders do at school... with me on top as I was the lightest and smallest one. I hated heights, but did it (also because I had the farthest to fall too and could break something!). My brother and I used to jump off the top of the front verandah (it was around 2metres high) and it was a little wonder we didn't break anything... as we climbed up the stairs on the outside of the railing with our Dad yelling at us to stop being such stupid idiots, that the railing wasn't designed to take our weight - and yet it did!

    Now, we're around 40, we say that kind of thing to my brother's daughter. She thinks we're old fogies and ... we realise as my brother and I exchange withering looks that we have turned into our parents. Oh, jeez! That's exactly when we start laughing and get my niece out onto a skateboard quick smart! She's gotta have a little fun and enjoy life like us at some point. :D