Flight Lesson – 2
I grew up in a Fairyland of no stranger danger, in a place defined as “the road.” Nurtured by a neighborhood of families, tied to each other by an umbilical cord of one long gravel road that strung all of our properties together. There were very few fences between us. The one’s that divided our properties were decades old, rusted wire, and covered with vines of wild raspberries. The parents on “the road” built wooden turn-styles over the top of the fences so we could climb them easily, and roam as we pleased. They even cut holes in the bottom of the wire, so our dogs could dig under them. There were no boundaries on “the road,” just a wide open world of one extended family. As children we were allowed to travel freely in the company of our horses, and our dogs, with only one rule. Be home for dinner.
In the summer we ran “the road” barefoot. Soles of our feet like leather, wild children with a secret call, “Woo WOO. Woo WOO.” We’d cup our mouths and howl to each other like wolves, waiting for the echo of our friends – Johnny, Joby, Pete, Robbie, Joey, Danny, and me. I ran with the boys, and we ran in packs with our dogs. Paco, Rover, Tawny, Magic, Bo, and Boots. Every family had a dog on the road and they were never on leashes. The dogs were free to run from yard to yard, just like us.
In this wild childhood of freedom, we were called home at night by the sound of our mother’s voices yelling, “DINNER!” We’d return to our houses each evening around 6PM, with slurry stuck in our scabby knees from falling off our bikes, and wild raspberry stains on our lips. Exhausted and hungry my brother and I would bide our time, pretending to listen to stories about our parent’s day. Shoveling down dinner as quickly as possible, and finishing it with a calculated polite, “Thank you, may I please be excused?” Then planning our escape, by rushing through dishes so we might be given our freedom again. “Can we go out and play now…Pleeease?” Like dessert after dark, we’d be served up barefoot by our parents graces unto the grass again, and call to our pack. “Woo WOO. Woo WOO.” Then Johnny, Joby, Pete, Robbie, Joey, Danny, Paco, Tawny, Magic, Bo, and Boots would come running through the night. Kids and dogs, playing ghost in the graveyard together for hours in the dark. We’d say goodnight and collect our jars of stars; lightning bugs as night lights to place by our twin beds. Then be tucked into our fresh sheets by the parents on “the road,” after nightly tick checks and tender brushings, removing the meadow’s burrs from our hair.
I carry home with me still, in me that wild barefoot place, with no fences you couldn’t climb easily over. My idea of home is never a house, it is a wide open space surrounded by magic meadows you run unleashed through; free to explore. I learned to fly as a child, before I knew I had wings. My soul of adventure was born in my own backyard.
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