The first thing that puts life into you when you're young is play, I think. And nobody knows about that better than my siblings:
From my brother I learned that bunk beds make good fake mole burrows, and that Legos, stuffed animals, rubber reptiles and Star Wars action figures are some of the very best toys. You know it's good times when we actually tried to record ourselves with the tape player while playing because we wanted to experience those those games again. We would end up laughing so hard we cried playing games like these,: The Ghost of the Broccoli Spirit, Bob and Larry and the Mario Mansion, Han Solo and the Wrench of Love, Newt Gunray the Annoying Junior Skiff Operator, or the running joke, "Oh, you're a beer bottle? No, I'm a person and my name is Anakin!" (Ok, so we were weirdos).
None of these fancy guys when we were young.
Just stick these three together and you've got yourself a beer bottle...I mean baby!
As very youngins, we had the running games of Belly Button Man and Captain Pants-Fall-Down, as well as the chipmunk pal pair, Chippy and Nuttly, who went on to have their own self-produced Chipmunk Radio Station created by yours truly using a TalkBoy. We also had a game called "George and Bobby" in which we were two middle aged men who lived together and argued a lot so that they had have "fights." Basically an excuse to put pillows in our shirts and crash into each other. (I bet you can guess that Josiah invented all of these).
As my sisters and surrogate siblings Gabby and Fickett boys well know, at least 50% of the time we
were outside, maybe more, we were mice, or other rodents. That's just how it was. And every day was National Rodent Day which meant extreme feasts made from "resources."
We learned the code of the outdoor kitchen:
Sand=flour/vanilla flavored things. You want a vanilla cake? use sand. But watch out for cat poop...gotta sift that stuff.
Dirt=chocolate. The dirt pile in the back yard was "chocolate mountain." The finest varieties meant that you spent at least a half hour sifting the dirt through an old window screen. Wet days meant hard times for sifting. But the smoothest chocolate mousse was only possible with the sifted stuff. The sheen on the mud wasn't quite right unless you had it.
Soft, dry rotting wood=chicken. You could finely shred it for a salad, or just use it in chunks. It was especially gourmet if you drizzled it with Black Walnut Sauce, procured in this method:
Recipe for Black Walnut Sauce
1 old dog's water bowl
3-4 blackened and slightly wet black walnuts from the ground
Enough water to cover said walnuts
Soak the walnuts in water for a few hours, until they turn the water a rich red brown. Use to add delicious rich flavor to all your favorite wood-based dishes!
(my mind it tasked like pork adobo sauce, ok?)
Other common Rodent Day fares: sourgrass salad, or wild onion soup (if you chew the stem your spit turns green!)
We also cannot mention outside games without these three important factors:
|Ours had significantly less depression.|
The Sump Pump Spigot: cooking for Rodent Day involved some water needs, and the creek was just too far, and the hose was too twisted. So the our ally was our frequently flooded basement and the sump pump that channeled the water out into the yard. We were pros, listening for that tell-tale gurgle that signaled that a gush of water was coming. Quick with the buckets!
Livestock: When you have three dogs of different sizes, you need to make use of them. Obviously you have a goat, a horse, and a cow. You can herd the around with a broom and feel pretty productive. Sam was pretty small, so I guess he ought to have been more of a pony than a horse, but cow was spot on for Goldie, the fat and rather vapid golden retriever, who conveniently ate grass quite often. Gabby the shih tzu brought up the rear as the baby goat.
Outside games also didn't paint over the harsh realities of growing up. I won't forget the day that I realized, after cracking my head on the same branch three times in a row, that I was too tall to play under the lilac bush anymore. I like to think my feelings echoed those of the early settlers--sadness about leaving the old homestead, but resolute that "the country was gettin' too crowded!"
So we went West. To the back corner of the yard to the grove of tree and bushes. No more playing bent over or in a full squat! This move probably saved me from growing a hunchback.
So my siblings are the first "friends for the journey" in my life. Next up...the Adventures of Abby and Gabby. Sounds like a book series waiting to happen. I claim that right now, nobody better steal that idea!
Thanks for reading!