Fourths

Widget gets three books (plus a bonus book, mom!) and a bedtime story every night. Sometimes they are stories about two little boys (or frogs or cats or ducks) named Widget and Little Bear. Sometimes they are stories of great inventors or brave explorers. Sometimes they are stores about Mommy’s childhood. I’m going to post them here now and then — just because I can. So grab your milk and cookies everyone; this is sure to be soothing and slightly bland. Oh, and not entirely accurate, but they’re the best I remember. If you were there, feel free to contradict me on the details….

Once upon a time, when I was a little girl, we used to go to the farm to celebrate the Fourth of July. All of our friends from the city would pile into cars with their parents, buckle up, and look out the car windows at the tops of the trees until we got there. We could only see the tops of the trees because this was back in the days before car seats were invented. But every now and then there was something interesting to see, like a barn or a pair of horses, so we looked out the window, watching and waiting.

Sometimes we sang songs with our mommies and daddies to pass the time. Sometimes we looked at books. It was a long ride up to the farm.

When we got to the farm, we all piled out of the car, happy and excited to be free at last. The mommies and daddies sat down with their friends by the picnic tables, and the kids ran down to the lake. There was a great big lake, you see, and it went clear across the backyard of the farm. We took our shoes off as we ran down to the water’s edge, or scuffed our shoes in the dusty dirt that lay on the surface of that Yazoo red clay.

(Not much grows in Yazoo clay, but it does hold memories.)

The big kids ran fast down to the lake, wanting to be the first to grab a hold of the long knotted rope that hung down from the great tree overlooking the lake. It was a great big tree, right at the water’s edge, and it shaded the shore with its leaves. But the rope was much more interesting. The rope had three — maybe four? — knots in it, perfect for grabbing on to and holding on with both hands and both feet. The big kids would grab onto the rope and jump into the air, screaming in glee as they soared over the lake and almost to the other side.

It wasn’t actually a very big lake. I think it just seemed that way when we were little.

They would swing out and back and around, as long as they could hold on, and then do you know what they did? They let go, and splashed SPLASH! right into the lake! They got all wet, but it was fun, and there were always plenty of towels up at the house if we needed them.

The little kids would play in the mud at the water’s edge, looking at bugs, and wondering what grew in the neighbor’s field across the lake.

Sometimes we’d go fishing there, with a pole that somebody’s daddy brought, and catch fish before dinner.

There was a canoe there, a little boat that one or two or three kids could go in, with life jackets, and paddle around the lake. I liked that part best. We’d get in and paddle out in the lake and around the bend, where it felt like we were alone in the water, even though I’m sure the mommies and daddies could see us from where they sat and put the finishing touches on lunch.

We’d play and play and play, making up stories and playing our own games until it was time to eat.

When it got dark, or when it got hot, we’d head inside to the main room of the cabin and load our plates with the most amazing food — freshly fried fish, church casseroles, veggies of all sorts, and nine kinds of desserts, and sink into the big chairs on the porch and eat and eat until we were stuffed.

Then while the grownups talked some more, we’d head out to the tire swing and take turns pushing each other as high as we could go.

When the sun set and we could hardly see each other through the thick dusk that falls on a hot summer day in the South, our mommies would pack up the dishes, our daddies would pick up the lawn chairs, and we’d all pile back into our cars for the long drive home. We were so tired, but happy that we’d had another good Fourth of July at the farm.

Every year, our family hosts a little barbecue for our MOMS Club friends and family; we eat and play and do absolutely nothing except enjoy each other’s company and let the kids run around and make their own adventures in the back yard. I think this is probably why.

11 Responses to Fourths

  1. Mmmmm… picnic food… ESPECIALLY those “church casseroles”.

    What memories you have stirred up for me today!

    And how wonderful that you are writing yours down… hardly bland, WM. Simply wonderful.

    xo CGF

  2. Gill says:

    What lovely memories! That’s what I want to create for my girls, wonderful memories that they can look back on with nostalgia when they are grown up. That’s what families are for!!

  3. It’s awesome to write down those memories. I tried to write my memories of my childhood swimming pools in a recent post, but it is so hard to find the right words to conjure up the details. I noticed that your post was mostly about things that had nothing to do with interactions with your parents – and my memories are like that too. It makes me sad a little bit, because I know my parents went to a lot of effort to give us a fun childhood, but they are not the central characters in most of my memories!

  4. Tina says:

    pssst…. I walk the AWBC in SF this weekend and I put your name on my shirt. I hope you don’t mind. My friend Nan was just diagnosed 2 weeks ago… It makes me so mad. So I’m channeling my energy for 39.3 miles this weekend for you, for our friends and families and everyone who has BC or any cancer at all. I love this post. I love 4th of July because there is no pressure for presents or getting things just enjoying the company of those we love. Its the perfect holiday and I’m so glad you are here with us this year so you could enjoy it with your little ones.

  5. Bon says:

    i want to find a way to have my kids experience something like this.

    love the idea of telling stories from your own childhood to Widget. Cinnamon Girl posted about a similar bedtime ritual at her house, and i decided to try but kept coming up with only awful stories like the time the fish died or the time i fell off the ironing board (mmm, yeh, i was playing gymnast during the Montreal Olympics) and i think O’s a bit young for my fare just yet.

    so maybe i’ll tell him your story, instead.πŸ™‚

  6. Kim says:

    What a great way to share family stories! I’ve never thought of doing it that way… to make it into a bedtime story. It’s something the little ones will remember if the stories are told often enough. LOVE it. Got to start doing it tomorrow!!
    -Kim

  7. NYfriend says:

    Love the story! You and I both are in a groove of nostalgia of our childhood and wanting to create opportunities for memories for our kids. I think summertime is especially inspiring. πŸ™‚

    Soooo…an OT-ish ? – what makes a “lake” okay to swim in vs. not? We have snapping turtles at our big pond, so that makes me nervous….

    Thanks for sharing. Good night. πŸ™‚

  8. suzanne says:

    How wonderful to hear you tell Widget the story of our farm. We remember too! Love you, suzanne

  9. whymommy says:

    Oh! Suzanne! Hi — I clearly have very happy memories of the farm! Thanks for visiting!

  10. Janine says:

    We have pictures of James and Sarah holding on tightly to the knotted rope having the time of their lives swinging out over the lake. What wonderful memories for all of us. Love, Janine

  11. Viellbleable says:

    Thanks for the post

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