I remember being 7 or 8 years old ... not wanting to come in from playing outside (except for dinner, which was always welcome because we'd worked off so many calories playing hard that we'd be "starving" by the time 6 o'clock rolled around)
Even after we ate, we'd pile outside in the humid dusk, calling to our friends "all-ie all-ie --- in-come-free ...." to pick up the kickball game where we'd left off. In mid-summer, when the sun set as late as 9 or 10 o'clock, when lightning bugs floated and glowed in the growing dark, when just throwing yourself down next to your best friend on the cool, damp grass was the very best thing you could think of in a million years ... I hate to sound like one of those old people who talk about the good old days (gasp - am I one of those now???) but I'm just gonna say it: those were really good times.
We'd come straight home from school and run out to play outside until it got too dark to see and our mothers would have to insist on bath and bedtimes. We played -- physically -- all afternoon during the school year, or all day in summer.
We rode bikes, roller-skated (before inline skates -- we used the kind of skates you attached to your sneakers and they had a little "key" to tighten them) played freeze tag, kick-the-can, or dodgeball, twisted each other round and round on a tire/rope swing until the swinger was begging for mercy from dizziness. Romped in the blackberry patch, playing "fort" or waged neighborhood "wars." Picked wild strawberries or blackberries until our hands and clothes were vermillion -stained and our stomachs ached from the sweetness. We told each other ghost stories, or related word-for-word, the plots of Twilight Zone and the Outer Limits. Traded comic books back and forth and read them lying on blankets in the shade of a spirea bush by the back door ... munched on popsicles or licked powdered jello mix out of our palms.
One of the best feelings was walking with my best friends towards "stickerland," "the haunted forest" or the big creek where we had a pretend pirate ship in the roots of huge old oak tree ... We'd be heading towards one of our favorite hangouts when somebody in the group would spontaneously shout, "Race Ya!"
someone shouts and
there's this instant spurt,
a pure joyful hilarious
of energy, our
we hurtle and charge
in a rush of
flailing limbs and
adrenaline, scrambling across
the vacant lot, bare
by weeds -- oh,
we don't care ...
that shouted magic
launches our giggling
piled on top of each other
for breath and
I am amazed, remembering my growing-up summers, at the incredible amount of energy I had as a child. All of us were bursting with life-force and energy and fun. We'd run and play tag and kick balls and zoom around until we dropped from exhaustion. Playing was what life was all about at that age.
I don't play enough anymore. I used to play with my kids when they were little -- I mean physical play and "pretend" play. Hanging around the playground (that's where I shot this latest series of photos) reminds me to stop the mind-stuff and the work sometimes -- to get out and play more often.
This blog post was written for Poetry Thursday. Check out other poetry posts for this week by clicking this button: