Leaves of Flame

Leaves of Flame
Image provided by
John Morgan @ http://www.flickr.com/photos/aidanmorgan/

Being a fireman’s kid can put a real damper on many things that most kids get to experience. Anything that had to do with fire was classified as a taboo for my brother and me. We could watch someone else strike a match, start the coals going for a barbecue, or watch fireworks from a more than adequate distance. However, to actually get involved in the process of one of these activities was strictly forbidden.

When I was three years old, I got a spanking for getting involved in a process that included fire. My friend, Cathy, and I were in the kitchen while our moms were in the adjacent living room enjoying coffee and chatting. Cathy and I got curious about the stove. It was so much larger than the ones we got for Christmas that were used in playing house. We managed to move one of the kitchen chairs over to the stove without our moms noticing. Seeing that we were so little, both of us could easily stand on the same chair without any fear of pushing the other one off. Therefore, a second chair wasn’t required. Cathy was just about ready to turn one of the knobs on the front when my dad came walking in. He grabbed both of us off the chair and spanked us, cupping his hand so the noise would scare us. To say the least, I didn’t go near that stove again until I was nine years old and my mom was standing right there to supervise.

Sure, my world as a child was safe — in my opinion, too safe. It took all of my powers of creativity to find ways around all the safety in my domain.

I loved playing outside. I wasn’t one of those frilly girls with her dolls lying about her. I wanted to pretend that I was camping and stalking wild bears with a bow and arrow. Yes, I was a tomboy through and through.

Cathy and her family moved from our neighborhood when I was six years old. I was miserable without her until Linda moved in a few months later. Although she loved playing with her Barbie doll, she was usually game for playing outside and getting a little dirty.

One of our favorite places to play was behind the tall junipers that stood at the front corner of her house. We knew that the little berries from the junipers were poisonous, but we would still strip them from the branches and pretend they were are food. Linda being Linda wanted to build a fire back there. After all, it was autumn and it was nippy outside. What better way to stay warm without going in? However, it wasn’t going to happen while I was there. I still remembered the spanking I got three years before then. She tried her best to con me into it but she didn’t have any luck.

It was when I was leaving to go home so that I wouldn’t be there when the fire started that I noticed the leaves of the small sycamore tree that hugged the side of Linda’s house. Sycamore trees aren’t native to where I lived in Colorado. This made this little tree a real find as far as I was concerned. Most trees in Colorado go from green, to yellow, to brown, and then fall off the tree sometime in September or October. However, the leaves of the sycamore tree didn’t follow the rules of Colorado and were in hues of orange and red as well as the green, yellow and brown. Moreover, you could find all four colors on one leave sometimes.

I picked some of the leaves, making sure to leave some for another day, and trotted back behind the junipers where Linda was on her hunches. She was thrilled with my discovery. We make our little fire of sycamore leaves and had a wonderful afternoon playing our game of being campers.

Do kids use this type of creativity these days? I haven’t seen it, but then, I haven’t been behind a juniper in a while.

 

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12 Replies to “Leaves of Flame”

  1. I think kids are too attached to the electronics to be that creative. This is one of the reasons why I joined gym rompers with my son – so that we get together with a group of other parents and kids and do activities like sing and dance and play – and none of it is computer driven.

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    1. That is wonderful that you’re introducing Gregory to social interaction. He’s going to grow up being confident in himself. As helpful, easy and fun our technological age is, I do agree that it could be making us antisocial. I’ve lived in this house for 5 years now, and yet I only know the people who live on either side of our house. I feel that I’m missing the boat at being a good neighbor even though I know that a good part of the problem has to do with computers, TVs, and phones.

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  2. When my kids were younger their imaginations would run wild, but now in their teens their imagination doesn’t get much of a work out. Your story brought back some of my own childhood memories, what fun we had and it took so little.

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    1. I wonder if the lack of imagination teens show has anything to do with being baffled by the real world that they are beginning to realize they will have to face head-on soon. Or maybe it could be that their emotions are running wild instead.

      I didn’t have that much in the way of toys when I was growing up. It really wasn’t a case of my parents not being able to afford to buy them. The real case was that they chose to spend money on family one-week vacations. I was always glad they did because I had a bad case of wonder-lust — still do.

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  3. Hi Glynnis,
    I don’t know if you’ve seen the Liebster Award, but I have nominated your blog “Speculations Impressed” for the Award. It is a fun thing to do to try to draw more people to your blog. I have created a blog post about it so that you will know what to do, as well as the questions I have posted for my nominees to answer. I really like what you do here at Speculations Impressed. Don’t feel pressured to participate in the Liebster Award thing, if you really don’t want to.

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    1. Hi Kelly

      I’m contemplating following through with the requirements to get this award. I’ve been feeling a little peaked lately so I’m not sure where I will get it done. Even so, thank you so much for this opportunity and your positive reaction to my blog.

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  4. Interesting that you mention your childhood being too safe at times, because I think that can be just as detrimental as no protection. Exploring the outdoors and being allowed to get messy is so important for children. I’m fortunate in that I live in the country and my daughters have grown up with plenty of opportunities for exploring nature and building dens. But I’m very aware of some of their friends who aren’t allowed to or aren’t encouraged to do the same and that’s sad.
    Your post reminded me of how much I love the change in the trees at this time of year. When I see those autumn colours I feel reassured at the arrival of a new season. Lovely!

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    1. I agree that many children are far too sheltered, resulting in children growing up not being able to adequately handle their lives. Luckily, my parents were only too strict about fire. They tempered everything else because they wanted my brother and I to be independent and confident as adults. Of course, they made their mistakes, but being human this is bound to happen.

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  5. Like you Glynis, I spent most of my childhood outside playing for hours with my brother and only going inside when we were hungry or too cold, or both! I wanted the same for my children but we moved to California where they were raised and it was so hot in the summers so we had to stay inside, which seemed so alien to me coming from England. I worried about the hold video games had over them and the difference in their upbringing as compared to mine. They did play outside a fair bit all in all, and we made sure to go on lots of walks but I do worry about the way young children are being brought up now, the lack of freedom they have and what must be the lack of opportunities to foster creativity, time to be bored and so allow the mind to wonder and create. I enjoyed reading your post about your childhood memories very much 🙂

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    1. Obviously, you live south of Moneray (sp?). I can understand why kids are reluctant to play outside in southern California. Just standing outside, turning around once, and walking back into the air-conditioning can give you a sunburn. I used to live on the upper peninsula of Michigan. The winters get snowy (4 ft. of snow staying put on the ground) and cold. The local government provided gyms for the kids to play in during these months. True, not as good as outside but they are learning how to be creative and how to be social. Do they do anything like that in California?

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  6. Now that’s using your imagination, Glynis. I love it!
    Our neighborhood played in a small grove of trees behind our house, chronicled under chapter 3 in the post ‘Rock Pee-ers’. We named the various trees and spent hours there.
    My four children and their friends created an Ewok village in our little woods when they were younger. But we live in rural area, so I don’t know how it is nowadays for kids within town.

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    1. Of course, I had to go read your post, Rock Pee-ers — hilarious.

      You wrote it before I started following you. Lately, time seems to slip away far too easily so I haven’t dug into your archives yet. Your story reminded me of another story in my past that I will share at a later time. Thanks for the nudge.

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