Spring is at our doorstep and first signs of new life and new growth have begun bursting forth despite the frigid temperatures of recent days. It is this time of year that reminds us, if we pay attention, of the things that are right with the world.
I remember as a kid wandering through the forest at the rear of our farm in the spring of the year looking for a new place to build a fort, a site for a hideout or a grape vine to swing across a washed out ravine. I still recall the fresh smell of new grass (not that kind, stop it), the chirping of birds and the peaceful sound of the creek racing along cleansing itself for the new life of spring.
In those days we might ride our ponies down the pathways leftover from last year as we returned to see if our makeshift tree house survived the winter. We would place our trusty mounts, Thunder and Gypsy, in corrals we built seasons before while we made repairs to the tree house, or fort, or whatever the project of the day was.
In those days rarely, if ever, did we see deer, but it was quite common to sit quietly and watch squirrels playing, or a fox darting back and forth attempting to dodge detection as she disappeared over the crest of a nearby hill.
Mom might have packed us a brown sack lunch consisting of a bologna sandwich with perhaps an apple and some cookies, which we would eat while we sat and dreamed about whatever kids dream about, watching the new buds of life burst into leaves on the surrounding maple, oak and hickory trees that were in abundance all around us.
For those days, that patch of 10 or 20 acres of woodland, a part of a 42-acre farm, seemed like the middle of the great wilderness and was a marvelous escape for a couple of 8-year-old and 4-year old boys, and perhaps some neighborhood boys who might join us occasionally.
It was a different day and time. Mom and Dad didn’t have to worry about the kids leaving the house in the morning to play and explore in the back 20 or so acres, and always trusted that we would return by suppertime, or when we were played out.
In our minds we were explorers, race car drivers, cowboys and anything else our youthful minds would conjure up, yet we had no sense of or care about the chaos going on in the world outside of our little piece of heaven. The Vietnam War, which was raging at the time, never once crossed our minds. Not once did the war on poverty, the Civil Rights movement, the effects of the increasing usage of drugs in our society, the race for nuclear supremacy in the world, all of which were issues of the time, ever cloud our thoughts or dreams of those days in the forest. Our greatest concern was who could blow the biggest bubble, jump the widest ravine, ride our pony the fastest or tell the funniest or scariest stories.
Often my brother and I, and occasionally our sister (although she wasn’t too much into the woodsy stuff back then), would find ourselves, tennis shoes and all, wading through the creek looking for arrow heads or some type of water-borne treasure. Then we would attempt to dry our shoes in the sun before we returned to the house and Mom found out we wore our good shoes in the water.
Springtime always produced hope for a brighter, warmer, clearer day. Those were happy times.
Many years later, while the ambience of spring remains the same, it all seems different.
Now, regrettably, I pay attention to the wars of the world, the unrest in the homeland, the divisiveness of politics, the pressures of finance, the dynamics of raising children and grandchildren, and I seem to be unaware of the birds chirping outside my window.
Hmmm. Something’s missing, I think. What if, for maybe just a day or two, we turn off the television, pay no attention to the headlines in the newspaper, and find a creek bank. One with cool crystal-clear water racing over the rocks, and just drink in the peacefulness of its motion. Gaze at the puffy white clouds against the backdrop of a perfect deep blue sky, lie back on a blanketand notice the important things going on around us, and perhaps share it with someone you love, or at least like a little. Now that is spring.
Yep, I think we need to find a creek.
Herb Day is a longtime local radio personality and singer-musician. You can email him at [email protected] and follow his work at www.HerbDayVoices.com.