My second niece graduated from high school last night. It seems impossible that she is an adult already, about to head off into the future…and feeling like all of our futures may well be better because of her.
One of my favorite things through the years has been spending time with my nieces. Here are some pictures from the recent graduate’s murky past, in no particular order.
I grew up there. I lived in an isolated area with the beach as my front yard and the woods as my back. I had more imaginary friends than real ones. I had “camperations” in the woods, where I would play with my friends. The tended to be little clearings with running water where we would set up housekeeping in the woods then go off and have little adventures finding things.
I know I had Winnie-the-Pooh books because I have them still. As a child the books were just a good read that made sense to me. I don’t recall having them read to me only reading them for myself.
I re-encountered them as an adult when a Thanksgiving guest brought one to my son one year, he was three or four (my son, not the guest). As an adult I recognized Milne’s genius: he captured the essence of childhood as it should be. I still feel a little guilty because we lived in the city and modern times where my son didn’t have the woods and the free time to explore an d build an imaginary world.
In a hideout.
Reading with Dad
We limited activities more than most families, but his life was pretty structured with daycare, school, and a few activities. People worried about “socialization” that was when they coined the term “play date”.
I remember that after I started home schooling him (6th grade) people would ask me about that and I said “he goes out and plays with the kids in the neighborhood”. That was all the “socialization” my friends and I ever had (I am not sure “socialization” was a word yet).
Times have changed…I think I was lucky to get out of Childhood when I did, before the modern improvements. How about you?
Every so often, in the winter, the Puget Sound gets a “polar express” wind from Alaska. I don’t know whether it is a scent or an absence of all the usual scents, but everything smells different: clean beyond fresh. The skies were an amazing clear, fresh, clean blue (“The bluest skies you’ve ever seen are in Seattle” was probably written about days like that.) They are rarely ever that clear any more.
Growing up I lived on the north end of an island in the Puget Sound so the wind came over miles of water and hit without taint or impediment. I lived on a trail not a road. Coming home from school on those clear, cold days when I got to the top of the trail I would spread my arms out and run down into the wind.
Often life was not great: my mother suffered from depression and home wasn’t pleasant a lot of the time; I was painfully shy and hated school. The trail through the woods was a place I loved, between two places that were not so great. When I ran into that clean fresh wind everything felt right. It blew everything away and running into it was heaven. The feel and smell (or lack of smell) from the cold, north wind always takes me back to that feeling.