Maybe it is a sentiment to my age, but nostalgia seems to be setting in at an ever-increasing rate. A few days ago, Big S and I were talking about how many colds the kids have been getting, and about allergies, and how different people handle them. Not surprisingly, our conversation deviated, and we started to talk about things we did as children, and how as adults we notice every little ache and pain, but as children we were somehow immune to the idea of mortality.
While reminiscing, I kept coming back to the hours spent rolling around in the hay field around the corner from our house. My friends and I would make these elaborate forts by rolling the wheat flat. We could spend hours in our little houses, goodness only knows what we talked of and what disasters we caused for the farmers. After a full day’s play we’d return home. I would have bloodshot eyes, a swollen mouth and tongue and my nose – oh my nose, how runny it was. My mom didn’t really like it when I played in the hay field. I didn’t like the itchy throat and watery eyes, but honestly, I didn’t really know any different. To be perfectly upfront, it took me well into my 20s to realize that not everyone sneezes twenty to thirty times each and every morning (yes, I do realize this isn’t normal…but it was normal in our family).
Growing up in a small town lends itself easily to the idea of spending long days outside, and coming home with the scent of fresh air thoroughly embedded in your very being.
This freedom to explore and wander is definitely not something that my children have. Sure we have city adventures, but we certainly don’t have a wheat field across the street to go roll around in. I wonder if the kids are missing out on these experiences? How will these city kids turn out? Will they know about neighbourhood gangs, where to find the best blackberry bushes, how to wrangle and ride a horse bareback, and that cow and pig shit don’t smell the same? Are these even important things? Will they actually suffer because they haven’t been exposed to good, clean country air?
We go out to the valley every so often. The kids enjoy it. They play in my parents’ backyard, and enjoy the spaciousness of their home. However, they can’t be let out on the streets, because there are no sidewalks, and they just don’t know where to walk. Do they walk on the grass? Do they go on the road? It is so confusing. It is like a free-for-all, crisscrossing the street. They are so unaware of how drivers whip around each corner, never expecting to see a human walking along the road. We go to new parks, wander past my old elementary school, check out places that used to be free and wild. There are houses everywhere now. The countryside that I grew up in, grew up after I left.
The truth of all this is, I would never want to move out of the city. I love this city (at times the cost of living here just about kills me, but I still love it). My kids know where the blackberry bushes are, we’ve got them in the city too, however, we don’t have the black bears that accompany them – instead we’ve got pollution and concrete (yay!). When the kids look out our front door, they don’t see hayfields, those are long gone. But we are able to put our imaginations to work, and think about how this little house was once the farmhouse for the whole of Little Mountain, and that seems pretty darn amazing.
We’re city folk, and I’m pretty happy just dreaming about how things were, I don’t ever want to go back. Our imaginations are intact; we’re busy creating new memories. Maybe my kids won’t be able to recall exactly what it is like to roll in the hay, but then again, they’ve also never woken-up to the trumpeting alarm of a sneeze attack.
VanGogh – Wheat Fields with Sun Rising & Wheat Fields with Cyprus
Urban Grains – Wheat Fields