A Leo, and a Cock by western and eastern astrology. In my thirties this fact would reassure me that many of my traits were inherited honestly, and at birth. I was born in a rural hospital and delivered by my mother into the hands of my father who was one of the few doctors in the area. But I don’t remember any of that.
I don’t remember much for certain but the flashes and snippets of early childhood are mainly sunny and bright.
Joyschool. Learning to skip, stone soup, my dear little friends and neighbor kids. Playing dress up with Natalie as Indians like sakajewea and wrapping our cabbage patch babies into blankets and slinging them from our backs as we roamed the neighborhood.
My little ponies. Oh my god how I loved those things. And playing with them in my mother’s flowers and building homes from plants. And my mother loved her plants, but she never did stop me from playing in them, trompling them for days on end.
And the hut. Is that what we called it? Behind the neighbors house on the edge of a horse pasture in some kind of trees that grew along the irrigation canal. This hut had been started by the older kids in the neighborhood so by the time I was old enough to be accepted into play there it was abandoned largely by the big kids and I inherited the ruins and built upon twenty years of child construction. There were platforms at varied heights in the trees and bridges made of single piece of scrap rope and swings and homemade rope ladders. Some perches and bridges ever higher in the trees which were connected only by our best knots and poorly driven nails. I remember shimmying along two ropes (one for feet and one for hands) fifteen feet in the air to get from one platform to the next. I can remember how the ropes would bend deeply with our weight as we reached the middle of the bridge and it was a constant battle to tie and tighten enough to maintain our weight as we crossed. We occassionally got yelled at by the farmer downstream who depended upon the irrigation for his crops. We widened and deepened the stream and built a dam to create a swimming hole. We swam in that hole fully clothed and worked on the hut for whole days every day through the summer, wet, dry, filthy and free of parental supervision. I remember feeling a special pride in the steps that I built into the bank on both sides of our tiny canal. They were carved out of the packed earth and tamped and smoothed to perfection. Each step was uniquely sized and shaped for my experience and needs as I used them. Some were extra wide to accommodate two feet, as a transition from step to swing. In one place the steps expanded sideways to allow access to a hidden cubby. I know that I had friends with me often, other neighbor kids with their parent’s tools and scraps of wood. But in my memory, as usual, those kids took a back seat to my own experience with the project. It was a special place for me. Some years after I quit going to that spot the local two year college extended the grounds of the president’s yard. They surrounded the trees with lawn and bured the canal in a pipe and tamed the trees and willows that had hidden me for so long . Oh yeah, the hut was behind the college presidents home. I grew up in a cul-de-sac that was upper class for a town in rural Utah with a population of 4,000.