For clean play I dressed kittens in doll clothes and pulled them in our little red Radio Flyer wagon, or pushed them in a vintage stroller. That cedar windbreak smelled good and the trees weren’t as giant as those in the shelterbelts, so we set up play kitchens.
We owned no actual dress-up clothes, so I metamorphosed into a bride with a white towel or pillowcase veil, gliding down the aisle between the mulberries and cedar trees.
Most of the time, imagination was the game we played, be it cowboys and Indians, making mud pies dotted with oozing purple mulberries or clumps of leaves.
Hide-and-seek and tag consumed endless hours. When I was “it” I held my eyes so tight that I saw white stars, which made me a bit slower on the start-up with my call of “Ready or not, here I come.”
We hid in the corn and got lost a time or two. Cornfields were different back then. It seemed like a foot of ground to grow weeds spanned the space between stalks.
Confidence overrode the fear, knowing that if we followed the rows, we’d either end up in the shelterbelt way north of the house, or back near the old cedar windbreak.
The four of us stuffed ourselves with mulberries until we couldn’t handle another bite. A tall old tree grew next to the corner of the chicken coop and we climbed on the roof to feast. Gorged ourselves on giant white and purple mulberries, and smaller tasty black ones.
At mealtime the creamy milk turned deep violet. Twigs, leaf bits, and bugs floated to the surface. Without the milk to show them off in a bowl, I imagine we ate quite a few winged and legged creatures along with the succulent berries.
One time we visited a neighboring family late into the night. I was having so much fun that when it was time to go, I ran and hid. Mom and Dad called and called. Did I actually think they’d leave me?
It was just so much better, running with someone other than my siblings, I didn’t want to go home.
Do you have carefree summertime memories of childhood?