When I was young I remember waking up summer mornings, sun blazing through my East-facing window and warming the foot of my bed. My cat would hop across my sheet-covered legs to sprawl then bask in the rays. She would lay there until either her movements or the heat forced me to get up and toss on my freshly cut shorts, recycled from last school year’s jeans. Morning birds would sing, the garbage truck would roar, and my cereal would snap, crackle and pop.
The day’s activities were unknown but there were a few staple selections from which to choose. Badminton (if the net was still up), Frisbee (if it wasn’t on the roof), kiddie pool (if no beetles had found their way in), or one of the many yard games my siblings and I had invented (or adapted from summer camp play). All involved many hours in the backyard or on the front lawn; grass between the toes, honeysuckle patches, and avoiding any “gifts” the neighbour’s dog may have left us.
By August my bare feet would be worn from summertime activities rendering them tough enough to tread everywhere without shoes, from the kitchen to the back porch and across the gravel driveway. By bedtime they would be filthy but I took that as a sign of a summer day well-spent, filled with plenty of outdoor activity. That was the thing — we were always outdoors, even in the warm summer rain, which was perfect for making umbrella forts on the front patio.
I miss having a yard.
I have nothing to climb, nowhere to build a fort (no boys allowed), and no room to do cartwheels until my hair elastic falls out and I fall to the ground, dizzy yet full of giggles. I have deadlines, I have writing and research, and I have PHP to code for website development. The best I can do is go for simple walks in the park, which oddly enough often satisfies this longing. Not in a “climbing a tree and getting sap all over my hands which I then wipe on my previously mentioned cutoffs” kind of way, but in how it’s — even in the slightest way — an escape.
It’s not often enough that we take time to recharge, and everyone does that differently. Before heading on another trip next week, I took my laptop (now permanently by my side since my iMac died) out to my parents’ backyard. I drank a slurpee. I did work. I sat on the grass until my legs were embossed with outlines of clover.
There are so many ways to “escape” and enjoy our amazing region. Whether it’s going home every now and then or exploring new beaches, parks, trails, or festivals in town. Happiness is in my own backyard, and sometimes that has nothing to do with owning a house or setting up a badminton net.