The Older I Get....

The older I get, the more nostalgic I become. Yes, the grammar is incorrect, but there it is. One of my favorite things to do as a child was hang out at the "woods" down the street from my home. I lived three houses away from the woods. It was basically a green belt that was a city park area, edged between my neighborhood and a big hill. At the top of the big hill was the police station. Before it became a developed park with a playground, it was just "the woods" to me. I hung out there alot. Many times I'd explore the woods alone, other times I'd go with my sisters or some friends from the neighborhood. I have so many memories of the woods. I could still show you where the mulberry trees grew, and where the blackberry bushes were, and even the best place to find and dig up those little onions. A childhood food source. I probably ate a lot of dirt as a kid. And I'm still alive, imagine that!

The woods were hilly and full of trees and brush. Several well-worn dirt paths wound over and around the hills, though there were many spots where I had to duck under hanging branches or ivy plants. Speaking of ivy, I was horribly allergic to poison ivy as a kid. I probably still am, but I'm not willing to test it. I remember getting poison ivy so dramatically that my entire face would swell up and my eyes even swelled shut a few times. I probably was exposed well over a dozen times as a kid but it never stopped me from exploring. I even reacted to poison oak, but poison ivy was the worst for me.

The woods was a magical place where my imagination could run wild. Hide and seek in the woods could take hours. I don't ever remember being afraid of the woods, but I do remember one time seeing a man (either an older teen or a young man) and that startled me. He just waved at me and the friend who was with me. I had no problem following the winding paths that others had made, even if I was alone. The nature noises never scared me, nor did being alone. It was fun for me.

There was also a creek at the woods. The creek was what separated my neighborhood from the woods. Usually we just hopped over it. I remember visiting a few times after hard rains to see how high the creek rose. One of the most vivid memories was catching crawfish in the creek. I doubt it was purely clean water by any means, but I remember my sisters and I standing the water and fishing out those crawfish with sticks.

The creek was interesting in the winter. Since the park area was hilly, it was a perfect place for all the neighborhood kids to go sledding when it snowed. The hill was awesome. It was high, had a natural bump in the middle of the hill, then sloped downward again....straight into the creek. There was no fence, so if you made it that far without wiping out on your sled, you better bail off your sled or you would end up in the creek. There are few greater thrills than sledding as a child. Heart pounding, scared and excited, no idea how to steer that plastic sheet, nose running, shoulders shivering, wanting to impress myself with my sledding skills. I did end up in the creek once. Oh, that water was so cold.