Monday Morning Musings

Posted on August 5, 2019 under Monday Morning Musings with 5 comments

A walk on the wild side… 60 years later


On my long weekend walk on Saturday, I was making my way along a country road when I heard a very familiar sound from my childhood. The only time I hear this sound is when it is hot and on this day the temperature was nearing 27. I am not an entomologist so I have no idea if my hypothesis is correct but that classic cricket sound on a hot day, might it be the Dog Day Cicada? When you hear that sound you know it is a very warm day.

As happens so very often on my long walks, I daydream and as I get closer to 70, my thoughts often go back in time, to a simpler time when the sound of the cicada (cricket) meant that you were heading for a walk in the woods.

Our small three bedroom home, with one bathroom (!)  , that housed 10 of us, abutted a field which led into the woods behind our old high school.  If you walked through the woods, you would arrive at the Bishop’s Bowl, a large field at the bottom of a ski hill, and eventually meet up with the road to the cemetery.

As a child, I lived in these woods. Not literally of course but I’m sure there were days when our mother would have like to have abandoned us to one of our tree houses.

Leaving the house, lush fields of grass would come up to my waist. I would pull a stock of grass from its moorings and chew on the end of it. That was just one of the crazy things we did back then. The very end of the blade of grass had a surprisingly pleasant taste. My guess is that a few of you partook in this pastime as well. On very hot days, the air would be alive with the sound of these noisy crickets or cicadas.

There would also be hundreds and hundreds of grasshoppers. If you stopped for even a few seconds, one would land on you. If it happened to be your hand or bare arm you might end up with something resembling grasshopper poop as a reminder of their presence. And speaking of bare arms, there was no such thing as sunscreen back then. I guess we hadn’t totally wrecked the ozone back in the 60s. Colorful butterflies, including the majestic monarch, flitted among the flora.

I also remember that field being full of wildflowers, especially daisies. “She loves me, she loves me not.” Come on, admit it, you plucked your share of petals trying to unravel the mysteries of love. What could a 9 year old possibly know about love? Probably as much, if not more, than a 68 year old!

The ground on the path was dusty with each step releasing a puff of smoky soil.

When the path met the woods, you entered a magical place filled with trees and wonder. On hot days, this was a cool place to be. This was your escape, the place that you would build your fort and live happily ever after. There were various trails throughout the woods and you knew them like the back of your hand. Each path had its own unique character.

On most days, you just wandered aimlessly listening to the birds and the chatter of squirrels. Occasionally you might come upon a harmless garter snake.

When your 9 year old legs got weary, you sat down in your favourite glen and munched on a peanut butter sandwich, washed down with a thermos of Cool Aid. The night before a hike in the woods, you’d take out one of those small packages of the sugary drink and make a pitcher, praying to God that one of your 7 siblings wouldn’t drink it all before morning.

You batted away horse flies and looked at your bloody limbs after an army of mosquitoes had marched through the forest with you as their target. And you were quite OK with this.

You probably picked some spruce gum from a tree. I know I had my share and can still smell and taste it and the black mark that it left on your hands, a sign of the outdoors. A healthy sign.

Will our grandchildren ever experience this magic?

This message sent to you by just another old, nostalgic fool.

Have a great holiday Monday.



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