Sunday, July 19, 2009

Simple things

We had a great time over the 4th, as I've mentioned before. We were driving home from church today, and I commented on how beautiful the sky was. Studmuffin reminded me how beautiful it was when we were at my parents last. That reminded me that I took pictures! And I had failed to share them with you!

My dad went with us down to "the trees" north of my parents house. There aren't many trees in the Oklahoma Panhandle. If you see trees, you know there was once a homestead there, someone currently lives there, or a creek is near by. The trees north of my folks house are near Sand Creek. Most of the time the creek is dry, but occasionally it is running. This is usually a bad sign, because that means there is flooding, which means down fences and hay bales floating away, and all sorts of extra work.

But, when the creek is dry, the trees are a great place for kids to play. This is a mysterious place of adventure and imagination. My cousins and I went down there frequently to build forts and play all sorts of imaginary games. Now, my kids go down there with their cousins every time they get a chance. They, of course, go escorted by adults. They have a threat that we never had as kids. Mountain lions are much more prevalent than when I was growing up. So, my parents do not let them wander off without adult supervision. We only had to worry about snakes, rats and spiders. As a matter of fact, Kelsey scared up a pack rat while we were down there. The rat ran into a pile of tumble weeds on the fence (you can see them in the picture of the fort above) and eluded Kelsey. However, Kelsey did sniff out 2 baby rats and killed them. She was in heaven. Popcorn thought it was sad that the babies got killed. Dad seemed pretty happy about the whole situation.

My cousins and I also went to the cliffs near my parents. They were the ideal place to find adventure. There was a special slide that we always used to get to the bottom of the cliffs. We would sit on our bottoms and slide down the sandy slope to the bottom. Then we would climb all over. We feasted on sand hill plums. We discovered baby owls. There was a ledge with a rock outcropping that the owls built a nest in every year. We could never resist the temptation to go see if the new babies had hatched yet. I look back on that and think how brave that seems now. I guess it never occurred to us to worry about the mama coming back to run us off. She always just flew off to a nearby tree and waited until we'd peeked, then moved on. We also loved to do cliff drawings. The cliffs were mostly sandstone, so it was easy to take a stick and carve our names.
Here is a picture of the cliffs in the distance. The look pretty small here, but there is a hill leading up to them, and I just didn't think to hike over there and take a close up so you could get a better feel for their actual size. I'm guessing they are about 50 feet high. Just right for adventure and fear of death in a reckless moment!

Another favorite haunt for us was the windmill. The windmill is a sad testament to days gone by now. The windmill head is no longer on the tower. Dad has switched to mostly solar water tanks. With no windmill, we no longer have a pond that is kept full by the overflow from the stock tank. This pond provided year round entertainment. I can remember swimming in it with my cousins Matt and Ben. The water wasn't very deep, and you would sink up to your knees in "mud." I prefer to think of it as mud instead of cow poop. In the winter when it was frozen solid I could go ice skating on it. We had real ice skates to enjoy.

See the dip in the ground? That's where the pond used to be.

However, one time my cousin Jason and I decided to go skating without permission. Actually, we had been expressly forbidden to go skating. My silly parents felt that the ice was not thick enough to hold us yet. Jason decided that the ice was not thick enough for adults, but it would be fine for kids. We had been sledding, so we had snow shoes on, coveralls, and sleds, but alas, no skates. Never fear, Jason zipped across the ice on his snow boots several times. He ventured to the side opposite of me, and sure enough, the ice began to crack. Of course, he fell in. He was near the edge, so I was able to go around to him and wade out and help him get unstuck from the ice, mud and muck. We were both okay, but it was a very cold, wet half mile walk back home!

You can see the foundation of an old homestead here.

The other exciting thing we liked to do was visit the old cellar down by the windmill. There was also the foundation of an old homestead and the skeleton of an old shed. The adventure was practically limitless! We were told over and over to stay out of the cellar. The door was gone, and there might be snakes down there. Well, one day in early spring my cousins and I went down to the windmill...and straight into the cellar. There was all sorts of fascinating stuff to look at in there. Unfortunately, when we turned to leave, our exit was obstructed. By a rattle snake stretched out dozing along the edge of the bottom step. That scared the daylights out of us. Then, we started to actually look around and realized that we were literally in a den of snakes! There were snakes laying all over the ground, curled up, piled on top of each other, everywhere. It may have grown in my memory. In all honesty it my have only been 4 or 5 rattle snakes, but in our minds it was suddenly hundreds of snakes, and they were everywhere. We took the leap past the first step, flew up the stairs and collapsed in a heap of quivering bodies on the ground outside. I don't think we even ran home to get my dad. I think we figured we'd just leave those snakes be, and not risk the punishment that was sure to come.

Well, that's all the memories I have for you today. A time of simple pleasures, and simple times. No video games. No TV. No concerns about bills or jobs or responsibilities. Just our imaginations and the great out doors. I sure do miss those times now!

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