It's been a few weeks since I posted anything, but it's not for lack of desire. I've just been incredibly busy with my ten year-old granddaughter. I've had her with me at least three days a week all summer, and with work and church there hasn't been much time for writing anything else--even writing my books or working in the yard and garden. But while it's been a very intense and exhausting summer, I can't complain about spending time with a child whose imagination is boundless and whose energy far outlasts my own. My little gal prefers animals to most people, but she's my little shadow, and nothing is more satisfying than curling up with her in a chair to watch a movie after a busy day of sewing doll clothes from homemade patterns, baking treats from recipes she finds online for her hamster and rabbits, watching her dance, playing with Barbies and baby dolls, constructing Shopkins' villages or entertaining ourselves in the castle that was constructed in my basement. She's almost outgrown that now, but she's an only child who loves having my undivided attention.
It got me reflecting on my own childhood. I had four sisters and two brothers and we tried to exist in a two bedroom and one bathroom house. We lived on a farm and our toys consisted mostly of sticks, cans and pieces of cardboard. But we did have one great place to escape. In the old fruit orchard were several old cars and trucks, some them laying on their sides. They were rusted and torn up, but we could climb through doors and windows and slid across seats that were loosing their horsehair stuffing and make believe we were traveling to far away and exciting places. We also had a favorite game where we would run along the top boards of the pigpen and try to make it across the sloped roof of the pig's house without falling inside where an angry boar was waiting to rip us apart.
There were bikes to ride, an empty granary with several rooms we could turn into apartments, and willow tree branches to swing on. It was a fearsome delight each summer to watch our mother chop the heads off a hundred chickens so they could be skinned, washed, packed in milk cartons and stored in the freezer for winter use. There were cats, horses and cows to feed and miles of garden to weed. We seldom had outside friends to play with, and there was never any money for extras, but in many ways I feel lucky because life seemed much simpler then with party telephone lines, no television or computers and two or three outfits to wear to school.
When I tell may granddaughter about my childhood she has no conception of what I'm talking about. Automated life has its advantages, but sometimes I'd like to turn back the years and give the children of today a chance to be free to explore life on their own terms without constant planned activities and cellphones that can't be relinquished. It makes me wonder what my granddaughter will remember when she gets to be my age. I just hope I'm part of her pleasant memories.