Pine Needle Forts and Tree Root Skating Rinks
At 12 years of age your priorities for home are different than as an adult. My father wanted land and a place for a huge garden. That meant country. For me country meant no friends, and no cable TV.
15-20 minutes outside of the nearest town is where we ended up. Not another kid for me to play with anywhere around, even though the school wasn’t far from the place. We lived in a trailer back then. It was nice and my father expanded on it quite a bit, I think that’s why I dislike the sound of power saws and that burning wood smell that it produces.
But what I think of most about that home is the outside. We had a long narrow stretch of the land in front of the trailer where the cars parked. I guess it would be the driveway. It was bordered by lines of pine trees. Nothing grew because of the cars and it was great for riding my bike.
Tree roots were everywhere along the edge of the drive and I would wind my bike through them testing my ability to avoid hitting anything. It was kind of like doing the technical figure skating where you did figure eights over and over in the same groves. I did that with my bike.
The bike was also my airplane. The drive was slightly higher than the road running alongside it. If you got up enough speed you could jump through the air and hope to land properly. If you panicked there was always a tree to stop you. No comment from me on whether I had to use the trees for that purpose or not. And no I don’t have a faint scar on my chin.
I had a basketball goal that my father made the backboard of for me. It was on a large pine tree toward the end of the drive and the trailer. At 12 I wondered how I was every going to keep making shots as the tree grew taller. Yeah, I had no idea at that time the tree grew out the top. No shame here. Well, not much.
There were hours of shooting basketballs and racing to keep them from hitting my father’s red pickup truck that he had rebuilt and painted himself. It kept me quick. Sure he’s a great father but you don’t mess with a Southern man’s truck. There’s a piece of Southern Culture advice for you.
The pine trees were toys to me. When the needles would fall I would make walls of forts with big mounds of them. Yes, we had that many trees. There really wasn’t a fear of things to bite you back then. You just played.
The dirt was dark and rich back then, not like the red dirt where I live now. You smelled nature. You felt it all around you. Now it’s the exhaust fume smells and claustrophobia of other houses on top of you.
Home now is just a place to sleep. These days in this world, house is the right word for it, not home. A home is where your heart is. A house is just where you stay. I miss those pine needle forts and tree root skating rinks.
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