When I was very young I lived in a small town in lower Michigan near a town called Kalamazoo. Actually, it was outside Battle Creek and Paw Paw* - lovely names to roll off your tongue when you're learning where you live and how you fit in your world.
We lived in a yellow house on a corner lot with a giant black walnut tree. My dad hooked up a tire swing, and I spent hours swaying underneath the big branches, listening to the thunk! of the big walnuts hitting the tin roof of the front porch.
My room faced the street. I could lounge on my yellow gingham canopy bed and look out through the leaves of the trees and dream about the book I was reading or the Disney record I was listening to. It was a good room for adventures.
The library had all the books I could want. There was a huge playground and a tennis court, where my parents would play and I would chase a tennis ball around and pick great armloads of Queen Anne's Lace.
It was where I first started taking walks with my father.
My dad is six-and-a-half feet tall. I had to grow into taking strolls with him - one summer we started out walking around the neighborhood, and I kept up, amazingly.
I felt so grown up.
We walked all over. Places I'd never seen, places I never knew existed in my small town. I don't know how he found them, but every night he'd find a new neatest thing to show me.
An abandoned pickle factory. (We climbed up one of the tanks and he lifted me up to see the few fat off-whitish things spoilt in the brine)
Train tracks. Magical things to run and leap on, with neat things like bent pennies and railroad spikes to find and the smell of the creosote from the tracks rising up while the cicadas chirruped.
We found odd half-grown over trails that twisted and turned and led to sudden glimpses of vistas unknown.
I felt grown up. I felt like my opinions mattered.
me and Cisco the Wonder Dog - the World's Most Patient (and long-suffering) German Shepherd (she ate marshmallows for me. Ever seen a dog eat a marshmallow? She was my best friend) twirling on the merry-go-round (as we were wont to do)But still young enough to hold my Dad's hand and skip.
*Hot? Ever been to Lawton?
photo credit - both images, Edward J Van Dyne