I heart the outdoors

leona-valley-california1Leona Valley, CA : Source

I don't remember watching much TV as a kid. Instead, most of memories involve my siblings and I playing outside. When I was little, it was still okay to unleash your children on the streets of your neighborhood, totally unattended, from sun up to sun down.

When we lived in Canyon Country, we had a large backyard that butted up to a steep hill. At the top of the hill, in the right corner of our property, was an overgrown tree. When I wasn't in school, I was hiding and playing under that tree. At first glance, it looked like nothing more than a tree in need of pruning. But upon closer inspections, the overgrown branches formed a canopy that shot out and concealed a hideaway. I would part the branches, crawl through and play for hours underneath it's arms.

In one corner of my secret hideout, I took a large ball of yarn and wrapped it into the tree branches. I dubbed this my sewing room. Often times I'd take a book and read for hours upon end. It was only when it got dark or I got hungry that I'd emerge from my cocoon. My brothers never bothered me in my hideout and for many years my sister was too little to make the trek up the hill and into the tree. It was my secret place.

When we moved from that house, it was my secret hideaway I missed the most. But it was quickly replaced with the wide open pastures that sat behind out house in Leona Valley. Acres and acres of undeveloped land were situated adjacent to our property. We'd hike out the back pasture, climb up the mountain and play in the creek and waterfall we discovered soon after moving there.

When we first moved to Leona Valley, we lived in a mobile home on the five acres my parents had purchased as our new home was being built. The construction workers dug all sorts of trenches around the property for water pipes and electrical lines. We used the trenches as our play place. Along with my sister and little brothers, we turned into soldiers and we waged war on each other from are dirt trenches.

When we got a little older we joined 4-H and a portion of our property was transformed into pig pens. Early in the spring, we'd pick out a few baby piggies and then my sister and I would raise them. At the end of each summer, we'd show our pigs at the fair and sell them at auction. My a spring and summer afternoon were spent chasing rouge pigs who'd escaped and headed for the hills behind the pasture.

I love being outside. The mountains are magical. The beach brings me peace. The desert is home. As a parent I have some anxiety my children aren't getting enough time outside. When I see Cooper happily digging inn our backyard sandbox or Shelby building a fort beneath our date tree ... my heart swells and my world is right. So much has changed from my childhood to theirs. But some things never change.


Written as an assignment for Ali Edwards’ class “31 Things” at Big Picture Classes.