I have a friend who grew up in a small, lovely town in Northern California where the weather is gorgeous year-round and everyone knows everyone’s name. I swear it – they all smile and whistle as they pass by on the tree-lined streets.
She once told me that it took her a good long while until she realized that not everyone’s childhood is like that, and that not every town in the world is like that. How would she know, really? It was her norm. Also when you’re from California, you don’t necessarily venture out of state so easily. It’s not like my Jersey childhood in which Pennsylvania, New York and Connecticut were all a hop, a skip and a jump away, when needed. Even Delaware was shouting distance.
I don’t know when it is that we gain awareness that life is different for other children not only in other countries, other states and other towns, but in houses next door.
It’s not just the region you live in, and the land, it’s what the heck you do on that land.
I love that there are so many things that will be a norm in my kids’ childhood. Some of those things are New England things, or even Northeast things. Four distinct and wonderful seasons. Maple sugaring season and shacks. Studded snow tires and pellet stoves. Unrivaled clam chowder and homemade, local ice cream to die for.
And some of those things that will be a norm in my kids’ childhood are what they will explore in their own yard.
Last week, New England was very unseasonably warm. I think we broke records. And while I’m under no illusions that summer begins in March and I knew it would inevitably end, it was highly enjoyable while it lasted. It was literally summer here. I think the high was mid 80’s for two days. I know spring/summer come to us every year, but never while I had a two and a half-year-old. And never while I had a two and a half-year-old living on a few acres of woods, wetlands and clearing.
I never knew how little I’d have to do to entertain her. That a new slide, a garden and a yard full of frogs, lizards, foxes, squirrels, birds and one random dog one day, is an awfully big adventure when you’re two. Heck, it’s an awfully big adventure when you’re 31.
It all started with the Spring Peepers. We have a bit of a pond in the woods near our house as well as a bit of wetlands down our driveway. You could hear the frogs from both places. It was kinda deafening at times:
We discovered new loves together: throwing rocks in the water. (She liked scaring the frogs. Me, not so much) Just sitting and barely breathing in silence until the frogs realized we were “safe” and started croaking again.
Sometimes she gets a little golden-haired in the warmer months. Definitely not inherited from me.
Shoes on the wrong feet, of course.
Her very favorite Valentine’s Day dress, worn less successfully in the frigid month of February, but it will probably be making its appearance more often now.
My childhood was also filled with streams and woods and catching crayfish and salamanders and an occasional turtle in a bucket. We always returned those animals to the wilderness. It gives me intense joy to picture Scarlet and her brother, whatever the heck he will look like, running through our woods and our yard, from stream to pond to stream, finding treasures under rocks and in the water. I have a feeling we’re going to need huge galoshes, all four of us.
We enjoyed a day outside with friends and new babies last weekend. Scarlet loved the exersaucer most. People kept saying she must be regressing into her own babyhood but we never actually had anything like this when she was a baby! Maybe we need one now:
There’s not much better than watching babies nap in the sun!
Really, really looking forward to what’s in store for us.