Midday Matinee is our people watching, people doing and people being feature. Join the Woodland Creatures for an afternoon break.

I once lived in paradise for three years.  I was a kid, so I didn’t think of it that way, but I sure enjoyed it. 

While my parents suffered in a house so badly built that snow blew in between the walls and foundation until we had indoor drifts, while the heating system was so poor that I’d wake in the mornings and find ice in sheets on the inside of the walls… I lived in paradise.

There was a creek out back.  We used to jump off an overhanging tree limb into the water, and I remember being so scared the first few times that I couldn’t make myself let go.  After a few painful belly-floppers, I even learned to hit the water feet first.

There was plenty of fishing, too.  We had cheap rods and reels, and many days we’d hunt for juicy worms and sit on the bank for hours, catching strings of sun fish.  Most of them were too small, so we tossed them back, but we often caught big ones too, and by the age of eight I was able to clean my own fish and even, sometimes, put dinner on the table.

Following that creek led to an old dam.  Whatever it had once served was long gone, but the dam still created an old waterfall we learned to be wary of.  Below the dam the creek widened into a large, calm pool and then sped up as it passed between the high walls of a rocky gorge.  My mother would have probably killed me if she’d ever guessed how often I broke the rules and went wading there all by myself.  It was my favorite place to just be.  Hours passed there like minutes as I reveled in the solitude, the creek, the sound of rushing water.  It was there I learned my appreciation for rocks, for they were everywhere, not just lining the gorge, and finding a particularly beautiful one felt like a successful treasure hunt.

In the winter, that creek became a new kind of play ground.  The boys played ice hockey and I got my first pair of figure skates, learning it all the hard way with plenty of falls.  It didn’t matter how cold or gray it got, we were out there on that ice, gliding, spinning, or chasing a cheap puck around.  Nights came early, so the instant we got home from school we all headed out for an hour or so on the ice.

In the springtime, watching the ice break up was an adventure in itself.  We judged the approach of the swimming seaon by the blocks of ice that steadily mounded, groaning and creaking with unearthly voices.

And there were woods, plenty of woods to wander in.  I had a favorite pine I’d climb, and then spend hours in its embrace watching the woodland creatures while I daydreamed of days to come.

I was surrounded by peace and beauty whenever I stepped out my door.  I felt lucky, but I didn’t realize until later just how blessed I was.

The sad thing is that was a long time ago, and life has demanded other things from me.  I worry, as all adults worry, I work hard, I struggle to find time just for me.  And I look back at those days and think:

A creek and some woods.  Who needs more than that?


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