Friday, March 12, 2010

Rural Entertainment

If today’s child was told that his or her day included going to a freshly plowed field to hunt for arrowheads that child might be confused. In my Ruralhood life, walking a plowed field was a familiar occurrence-one that I took for granted and now cherish as a memory.

Most of the time my dad would go on his own, but other times he would load up his family and we would walk the fields in search of arrowheads. Often called Missouri Jones (as in Indiana) by his cousin, my dad was very interested in relics of the past. He loved exploring caves in our area, climbing the cliffs and hiking along the rivers. It was an interesting childhood living with my dad.

On one such field outing, we went to a family member’s plowed field. Once we had climbed out of the car and walked to the field, I would watch my dad. He seemed to have a method. He would walk up and down the rows, eyes rarely leaving the ground. My eagle-eyed mother (it seemed) usually found the first treasure of the day.

During those days of discovery, I learned respect for the earth, for those precious artifacts and family. I also learned that what seems disturbed and tossed about is actually an opportunity to grow.

There are times when recollection is quite vivid because of an emotion or experience that has occurred, thereby, making an imprint on the memory. One of those times happened on one of those field days. I don’t remember there being many rules in the open fields that were close to family farms, but I am sure I was told to not wander. Those seem like familiar words. That day, I decided to walk in the opposite direction of my parents. I looked at them and they weren’t watching so I walked away. I wanted to see how far I could travel in that seemingly endless field. So I started off on my own and was hoping I would find something very special to show my folks upon return.

Photo: I found this arrowhead nearly 30 years ago on the road outside my house when it was a gravel road.

I walked for what seemed like hours on my skinny little legs until I got to the end where the turned earth met the untouched grass then brush. The earth smelled crisp and bit my nose with its musty aroma. It was a wonderful aroma–raw disturbed earth. When I finally got to the end of my adventure, I felt triumphant- proud of myself. I turned to look at my family and they appeared far away and tiny against the dark earth and cloudless blue sky. At that moment I felt little and vulnerable. Then something in the thick brush stirred. This was my moment of truth. I was out of the protection area of my parents. There would be no saving me from the bear that I could hear coming and I was certain wanted to eat my little child body .

I sprinted away from that noise with more speed than a small child should possess. I tripped only once on one of the many clots of earth that I was trying to hop over to be with my family again.

I don’t know if they ever noticed that I had wandered off. More than likely, they had and wanted to give me a chance to correct my own behavior.

Of course, there was no bear in the bush.

Rural Significance
Entertainment changes as fast as the seasons of the earth. What my grandparents did as children for play (if they indeed had time for playing) was certainly not what I did for entertainment. My father tells that his imagination was his toy. My mother loved playing sports. My children’s play was linked to technology that I didn’t have as a child. And of course there were toys. Toys for early generations were made from every day things. Most of my toys weren’t homemade, but purchased. My children also had purchased toys and games.

What was the significance of entertainment in my Ruralhood? The most noteworthy thing about it was family togetherness with simple activities that grew forever memories.



Mary Aalgaard said...

I guess the closest thing we have is playing board games together, and taking road trips, but never going too far.

What a unique experience and memory. Bears!

Gail said...

We did this too. We also were rock hounds.

My toys were few but very treasured. A doll, a red wagon and a truck...I was very blessed.

Imagination was the main thing. We, as a family, played lots of verbal games like I spy and count the blue cars, and spell a word and the next person takes the first letter and spells a word.

Reading was our favorite passtime.

Judy Sheldon-Walker said...

Like Gail, we played many word games. We made words out of license plate letters, we played "I spy" on road trips. Childhood meant helping in the gardens and fields, pulling fields, removing rocks, planting and harvesting, tending chickens, slopping hogs. We enjoyed playing with the cows on our grandparents dairy farms, and they had rabbits to pet. Computer games... what were those?

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

There weren't so many arrowheads where I grew up (or I wasn't allowed too far into the woods!) but my husband (from Alabama) found tons of them. :)


Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

We played cowboys and Indians .. but no arrowheads down the road from what is now Heathrow airport!

I love treasure ..and am always agawp at treasure found .. but just that love of being outside, with the birds and the bees, and the bears .. if they came - I was terrified of a wolf ..that was my nemesis .. until I stepped on a snake (probably a big grass snake - basking in the sun) and my little legs ran me all the way back to the bus stop - poor babysitter local Cornish girl .. had a fit .. as she had my little brother too in a pushchair! Snakes and me .. not too happy!

Lovely story of walking the ploughed lands ..

Anonymous said...

I found an arrowhead once when I was a kid. I left it because I thought there was a significance that it should be left. Not sure why. A little out of respect. A little out of fear. So I gently placed it back on the ground in the weeds.

Stephen Tremp

Indie said...

I thought I had commented on this post but I must not have followed all the way through.

I really loved this because it brought back special memories with my brothers hunting arrowheads along the river bank.

Thank you so much for taking me back to such a pleasant time with your words!


Kit said...

Found a few arrowheads and even a few paint-rocks in N.C.
Very interesting,