Another creative writing exercise from my Writing Outside the Box course a few years ago. May be posting a few of these over the next couple of day. My daughter and son-in-love, Morgan and Stephen, will hopefully be arriving tomorrow for their west coast wedding reception on Saturday. I say hopefully because it is snowing in DC.
A little memoir from my childhood…
Childhood games. Rhymes. Jumprope. Clapping games. Boardgames. Scary tales shared in the middle of the night when all is quiet and dark. Taking commonplace things and inventing new uses, such as removing a slat from the giant wooden spools used to wrap cable and wires, then taking turns inside as your friends rolled you around the yard, the neighborhood, a small hill if it could be found. Hide and seek.
Our version of hide and seek was a bit different – we played on horseback. In the abandoned cornfields. Through the perfectly planted rows of pines. Down the giant hill into the reservoir. Across the newly tilled soil of the golf-course-to-be – so thoughtlessly deposited around our favorite swimming hole. Galloping in the endless summer heat. Leaving the trail of running hooves in the soft tar of the asphalt. Collapsing in the small patches of shade, hoping for some hint of a breeze. Waiting, anticipating, surrendering self to the inevitable afternoon thunderstorm, with its brilliant streaks of light chasing one another across the sky, and the pursuing thunderclaps shaking the very earth beneath us.
Ellen owned BigUn before me. Ellen was tall and tan, stately and formidable. She was half Cherokee by birth, but wholly Cherokee within. Nothing could throw her. Her manner of teaching was to throw me up behind her – the use of a saddle would be nothing less than sacrilege – and if ever I even thought of holding onto her to catch my balance she would remind me, by the flick of the reins over her shoulder, that balance was all in the legs.
Ellen trained BigUn in the art of hide and seek. Racing to the hiding spot, BigUn would then lie down among the cornstalks or tall grass, eagerly awaiting the pursuers, straining as they passed out of sight. But only on the signal, one single word – “injun” – would he jump up and race back to home base. If detected and pursued, the route would change to the pine tree farms, planted in perfect rows. BigUn was half Welsh pony, half quarter horse – perfectly proportioned to fly through the trees branches looming barely above our heads as we whizzed by. BigUn could literally turn on a dime, so sharply that catching us was out of the question.
Many such memories fill those four brief horse years. Lazy, hot summer days. Crisp fall mornings. Winter spent in shorts on a warm, bare horseback. Spring runs through the tender grass, glorying in the promise of a soon-to-return summer of freedom and play, books to read just because, basking in the sheer joy of escaping to somewhere else. Scheming for the future. Dreaming new possibilities.
Our games were not organized, rarely planned. They just were. Perfect.