I took the time to stop and think about the place I called home as a child. I remembered
peace, joy, happiness, fun, freedom and I realized that I loved my home as a child and that
even though I have been gone for many years and it has been sold to strangers, I still hold
strong feelings for this small ten acre parcel of land we called home.
It was twenty miles out of town. The air was clean and fresh year round, except when the
farmers burned the fields after the grass seed harvests and when the ‘honey’ trucks went
through fertilizing those same fields in the spring.
When you were outside the noises you heard were animal sounds. A horse whinnying,
cows lowing, frogs in the distance, a dog barking at a squirrel, cats meowing at you, birds
chirping and singing.
Noise from vehicles was daily, but infrequent enough that when a vehicle came down the
road you knew who it was by the sound of the engine. Emergency vehicles were only ever
in the distance and rare. Tractors were far more common than cars and their sound was a
distinctive deep putting sound. Air traffic was seldom heard, commercial planes were to be
seen only as white streaks in an otherwise blue sky and never heard. There were
occasionally crop dusting or small private planes, but they were less common.
At night as I would go to sleep I would hear frogs in the distance and crickets under my
windows. As I woke up in the morning it was always to birds with their songs of welcome for
the new day and off in the distance there was one lone rooster announcing the sunrise. I
loved hearing the birds melodic voices in the mornings and missed this very much when I
moved away to begin my own family.
The colors around me were always vibrant. There had to have been a hundred shades of
green from all the trees and shrubs, grasses and flowers. There were cedar, fir, pine,
spruce and holly trees that were green year round. There was maple, alder, hazelnut, birch,
wild cherry and apple, choke cherry, and many other deciduous trees that were growing
wild. There was blackberry, black caps, ferns, skunk cabbage, stinging nettles, cat tails,
pampas grass, a grass that grew in the marsh that I did not know the name of, bull thistle,
cockle burrs, and of course common grass in the yard, along with dandelions. The flowers
were wild and cultivated. We had planted violets, daffodils, iris, rhododendrons, azaleas,
bleeding hearts and camellias. The trilliums grew wild in the woods and there was a ‘wild’
iris that was short and always purple and yellow. This was my favorite flower.
The sky was beautiful. It was always changing, the clouds that floated through the blue sky
were puffy and were a great deal of pleasure to lay in the grass and watch them change
into recognizable shapes. The colors of the clouds changed from fluffy white on sunny days
to grays on rainy or snowy days and ominous black on stormy days.
Rainbows were often seen just before or after a rain or thunder storm. About fifty percent of
the time I would see two at a time one above the other. To see the tall green trees against
the brilliant blue sky with a few of the fluffy white clouds behind them in the distance was
Way off in the distance was the Cascade Mountains. Most prominent was Mt. Hood. It was
the only snow capped mountain to be seen year round. All around it, from spring to late fall
the lower mountains were green. Mt. Hood towered over them all. Its majesty had never
been equaled by anything I have seen since, and its beauty is indescribable. Mt. Hood was
my security. I used it to orient myself no matter where I was. I knew if I could see it I could
find my way home, I always knew where I was in relation to its place. This mountain was my
friend, an anchor.
When I needed to be alone I would walk into our woods and go down the hill to the creek.
There I would find peace and solitude. I would sit in the shade of the trees lining the creek
and listen to its gurgling and ‘tripping’ over the rocks in its path. I would hear birds in the
trees, bees going from blossom to blossom, flies and mosquitoes, dragon flies, blue tail flies
buzzing around, butterflies meandering their way from flower to flower. I would watch the
squirrels hopping from branch to branch, going up and down the tree trunks and either
burying or digging up their cashed nuts. Once in a while I would see a rabbit timidly coming
out of hiding, or a mother quail and several young trailing along behind her.
In the creek there were minnows to watch darting here and there after what food they could
find, craw fish scavenging for food or darting from under one rock to hide under another. On
the top of the water was two very interesting bugs. They skimmed the water. One looked
like a beetle but it would lay on the surface of the water and ‘paddle’ its legs. It’s legs looked
somewhat like oars too. The other one was very light, kind of like a mosquito. It would stand
on the water and literally skim over the surface. The only part of it that would touch the
water was its ‘feet’. Every so often I would find a salamander and catch it to see how it
moved, or how fast it would run away. They were brown on top and yellow orange on their
belly. Their underbelly skin was very soft and smooth and a little loose while the brown skin
was more like that of a reptile, tough and rough to touch.
In the summer I would take my shoes and socks off, roll up my pants and wade in the
creek. I enjoyed being barefoot by the creek. I would feel the mud or sand, depending on
where I was along the creek, squish between my toes and squirt over the top of my feet.
This was neat to feel and watch happen because it never looked the same each time I did it.
The creek was not ever more than a foot deep unless it had recently rained very hard.
When it did rain hard enough the creek became a miniature raging torrent. Like any fast
moving body of water it would collect mud, leaves and small sticks and churn them around
until they stuck on something along the bank, the mud stayed roiled in the water until it
settled back to its normal level and speed. I would sometimes drink from the creek, but I
preferred the spring water because it was better tasting.
We had spring water that was ‘harnessed’ for our drinking water and the storage tank had
an over flow near the top. I would lay on the top of the tank and lean over the side to reach
the pipe that was six inches down and drink my fill of this pure, crystal clear, ice cold water.
This water was so pure that there was no identifiable taste to it. It has been my ‘measuring
stick’ for good water all my life, and I have never found anything to even come close to it,
except high mountain streams.
This little creek I played in and around was only a couple of miles long. Its headwaters
began on a nearby neighbor's property, flowed through two more parcels, ours and two or
three others before it flowed into Clear Creek.
Clear Creek was where our swimming hole was. This creek flowed into the Clackamas
River many miles away near Carver, OR. The Clackamas river flowed into the Willamette
River in Oregon City. The Willamette river then flowed into the mighty Columbia River,
which emptied into the Pacific Ocean.
Life was peaceful there as a child. I was free to explore and investigate everything within
our line fences, and I learned a great deal.
I learned to be quiet and patient so that I could see animals in their natural environment. I
was able to watch birds feeding their young, deer with their fawns in small meadows as they
very daintily walked through on their way to their hidden nests. Watching the squirrels play
in the trees with each other was a very special delight. I watched ants and beetles carrying
things, battles between predator insects and their prey and sometimes being surprised by
the outcome. Once in a while I would see a snake slither quietly away. I am thankful that I
never saw a skunk, I smelled them once in a while, but that was as far as it got.
This is where I learned to be silent, to observe and think. This is where I became
comfortable with myself. This is where I was most at peace and happy.
And then I got my horse.
He became my companion. Because of him I gained freedom to roam the community and
security and safety as I did it. He and I became a team, we trusted each other and went
many places and miles together. Because of him my avenues of exploration expanded
greatly. He was sure footed and swift, steady and spirited. He was a delight to ride. He and
I would ride to the swimming hole and swim together to cool off and then go home again.
We both loved to have the wind in our faces and sun on our backs as we ran in the fire
trails around the fescue fields.
We always had a dog and lots of cats to play with, at one time or another we had rabbits, a
steer (beef), pigs and chickens. All of these were slaughtered for food. They were not pets
like the dog, cats and horse.
My childhood home
This is the property that I wrote about toward the end of my book. The first
“happy” writing I did during my therapy. This is the original photo that was
used by an artist to enlarge and colorize to sell to the land owners. The
“painting” that came from this is missing now. It disappeared either when my
mother died or when my father died. It is one that I would like to have again if
its whereabouts are known.
The painting that was made from this picture was touched up so that several
things do not show - the “junk cars” scattered around, the things in the field at
the house end of the driveway, and my horse behind the house at the tree-
line. The field in front of the house is actually plowed and disked, but in the
painting it is green.