Go outside and play! Remember being a school kid in June and just dreading summer vacation? You don’t? Boy, I do. Summers around our place were probably a little different than your vacation, backyard swimming pool, BBQ'd hot dog days in the sun. It’s not that I wasn’t going to have more time to recreate because I certainly would, but I knew when that last bell rang on that last day of school in June that I was going to miss my friends and, mostly, I was going to miss the structure. School started promptly every day at 8:05 – reading, math, recess at 10:25, social studies, lunch at 12:10….. Predictable, reliable, everything right on time. I loved that scheduled life and I knew that my summers were not going to have that same level of structure.
It’s not that my summers were going to be filled with chores. My summers were going to full of nothing. Each morning would consist of my mom opening the door and then promptly closing it with me on the other side. I’d have to figure out what I was going to do every day and I better hope that it didn’t cross the invisible boundaries she’d set. I couldn’t go too far from the house, but I never knew where that line was. I had no money so that cut out a few options. Our neighborhood was full of kids that I was not allowed to play with. Summers were not my friend the first few years of my youth. In my mother’s defense, she did have high expectations of what summer break would be each year, but it always felt like it was a little too much together time for us. All that extra unsupervised time lead to my obsession with the library.
I spent a lot of days at the library deep diving into how to build a pond while my friends were actually diving into ponds. In my head (and on scrap paper from the circulation desk) I drew out landscapes and house plans. I read everything I could on gardening and construction. I organized the outdoors into something that I could embrace, structure and organize. I can still see the slanted windows of the sun-room I created at 10 years old. There was a backyard-homesteading life with a house and garden and pond and a dog and ALL THE THINGS in my imagination that I desperately sought out every day at the library.
Today I get to build that dream here in the real world. My love of the backyard homestead was such a foundation of my youth. Now I get to walk out my door every day to the space where those dreams are coming true. Now it’s time to REALLY go outside and play!