Childhood farm adventures offer serene memories

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“Those who contemplate the beauty of Earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.”

— Rachel Carson

Not long ago, a friend who had just been through surgery said the anxiety leading up to the procedure was worse than anything else.

She recalled that the best advice given by a caring nurse was this: “Let yourself recall your most peaceful place, even if it means going all the way back to childhood. It will calm you.”

Childhood memories

She said that for most people, it is childhood memories that bring serenity in times of great stress and fearfulness. The happiness of our childhood came with no strings attached. If you were born lucky, there were no worries of time, money or obligation tied to any single thing we wished to do. Each day was a new day, adventures ready to open before us.

Contemplating my choices of childhood’s peaceful places held nothing of great grandeur. Simple, safe, wide-open, wonderful. There were a great many from which to draw.

Imagination

One of the first to come to mind was sitting atop a hopper wagon filled with cool, slightly damp, shelled corn. Dad was always nearby, keeping an eye on my sisters and me, and we could pretend to be anywhere. Our imaginations took us to a sailboat on the high seas, or our own palace atop a bustling city.

Riding my bike anywhere on the farm with my dog in the deep basket attached to the handlebars was another great escape. When neighbor kids or cousins visited, we could become cowboy rodeo riders on those bikes, about to save the world from bad guys at every turn.

Outside

Swimming in the pond, after a courageous dive off the board, always felt like heaven. I still dream of it sometimes — learning to do as many somersaults as humanly possible underwater while holding my nose was one summer’s big focus.

The barns were where our hardest work was done, but we had fun playing in between chores, climbing to the highest mow. If it was too hot to be inside, we practiced softball, tetherball and badminton, with a few baton twirling sessions thrown in for fun. Add in a few extra kids, and we could make up our own volleyball games.

Seasons

My mind can wander the seasons as one year of school advanced into another. Winter break meant sled riding on the best hill around, or, if conditions were just right, a day spent ice skating.

Our treehouse was a great spot to store our extra gloves and a thermos of hot cocoa. That old treehouse was rugged, built by our own hands. We were proud to say it was all ours, and no one anywhere had one just like it.

A book could be written about the various choices of calming places each individual would choose. I’m sure mine would look mighty boring to many who have lived grander lives. But I wouldn’t trade the simple beauty and adventure that growing up on our farm provided.

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Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, and three grandchildren.

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