Sunday, February 18, 2007

More shared memories....secret woods

Remembering back to my favorite days as a young girl, the thought of me racing through the woods with my peanut butter sandwich in hand to make it to my secret spot before a vampire got me stands out most often. This was well before I got a horse, and after I decided it was best to play alone than to have to always be the victim while playing with the boys.
We owned 5 acres of dense woods,which mom still lives on, and the neighboring property had 40 acres for cows to roam. Well, cows tend to follow paths and take the easy route, so only the perimeter of the wooded property had visible trails. This was great because no one knew I was trespassing. There were signs on every tree stating trespassers would be executed to the full extent of the law. This sounded very dangerous to me which made my adventures even more exciting.Barbed wire fence divided our properties, but there was one spot where a tree had fallen and made the perfect bridge to avoid getting hung up on the fence.
Our summers were always hot and sunny, and being in the dense woods really made it feel like a sauna . Thick and smelling of wet wood. The many woodland fern, jack in the pulpit, and "umbrella" plants,(I have forgotten their real name) were everywhere. Once in a while the heavy smell of fresh honey would float my way. I always stayed away from honey trees for fear of being stung and swelling up like a balloon which I had seen on Saturday morning cartoons (channel 9 WGN Chicago).
I can't imagine allowing my child to roam into the woods for hours by herself these days. I must have had an angel in my pocket by the way I teased death. I would wade through deep waters that lay in the woods(swamps we called them even though they were not smelly or dirty), I have been chased from the woods by wild and angry animals, I climbed a very tall tree deep in the woods and have fallen without breaking anything, and I have eaten poison berries only to have suffered stained lips and a belly ache. It is amazing what we survive and can look back on in terror and wonder.
Always alone in the woods I went. Packing my peanut butter sandwich, sometimes my "My Friend Flicka" book and a Mason jar of iced tea. Off to my secret spot on the neighbors property.Upon approaching the fence, I would hide if a cow was walking by, hoping it wouldn't see or hear me. I feared cows because of their size.
After the cows would pass, I would climb over the tree bridge and carefully make my way to a large hidden pond. It had a fallen tree which was covered in bright green soft moss. I would take off my Keds and crawl on my belly to the center of the pond with my lunch in hand. I would stare in the water for hours and watch tiny bugs make their way through the water. Large green frogs would jump in and make quite a splash. I imagined fairies flying around me as I swore I could see their reflection in the water. Turning my head quickly to catch a glimpse.Perhaps dragonflies???? I always left some crust for them. The cat tails and wild deep purple Iris surrounded the pond. One large branch grew from the tree straight in the air. This was what I would hang on to when I stood up.Pretending to guide the ship through the ocean while stopping for a mermaid to join me. Once my foot slipped and I scraped my leg along the rough bark. I was scared that either mom would see the green stained scratch on my leg or it would get infected and they would have to amputate so I wore jeans until it disappeared keeping an eye out for a red line to spread up my leg to my heart.
Yes, I had quite an imagination, but a short attention span. There were too many adventures to be had to waste a day indoors. Two years ago I asked my brothers and mom to join me in search of my secret spot. They never knew about it until then, and unfortunately we did not find it. We walked through the woods for hours. The property went up for sale last Winter.I plan on a return search this Spring. This time I think I will pack peanut butter sandwiches and tea for us. Maybe that is the secret to finding it's location. I know I will not get to share this spot with a grandchild some day. I am sure a subdivision will be in progress soon after the sale of my "magical spot in the woods".


  1. Great memories of a great time. I guess I was too mean for the boys to pick on me, as they seemed to think I was one of them. Maybe having two really big older brothers, ten+ years older, helped. I was just too bossy, I think, not girly enough. =)

    I love your imagination.

  2. What a lovely story. I always wanted to look down and see a small violet leaf wiggle and with a tiny giggle have a small elf pop out...grin

  3. Pat, thank you for sharing that great story from your childhood. I certainly hope that this year you get to find your "secret spot". I have to agree the trick must be that you have that peanut butter sandwich with you!!!

  4. I enjoyed your childhood memories. I had a pretty good imagination when I was young too. You talking about running through the woods reminded me of a childhood dream that kept haunting me off and on. I was always dreaming a wolf was chasing me and would almost get me and then I would wake up. Don't know if that came from Little Red Riding Hood or what but it was a scary dream at the time. LOL


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