Guess what my grandson has discovered! Mud puddles! Thanks to his tomboy Grandma who used to love to play in mud puddles herself when she was a little girl. We had a lot of them around, too, growing up in the Olympic Rain Forest area of Washington State. So far he's only stomped in one and splashed mud all over himself and me. That isn't saying he hasn't tried to stomp in a few more, but so far I've caught him before he's waded in. But, oh! That little boy has a wicked arm and just loves to toss rocks in to them. The bigger the splash, the more his pleasure. And we have lots of time to toss rocks into mud puddles. Lots of time.
Back in the days before the Department of Environmental Quality and all these other ecological-minded organizations came into being -- long before they were even thought of -- a lot of people used to burn their paper trash in their back yards. Some people had old galvanized metal drums they'd use as burn barrels, some with screens over them to catch the sparks or cinders, but most were just open. My Dad usually found a somewhat isolated area of yard at whatever house we lived in at the time, cleared away a bare spot, and we'd use it as a burn heap. With a family of 6, we generated a lot of trash and it was usually up to one of us kids to pile it all up and set fire to it. Could you even imagine that now...an open heap of trash burning, let alone kids being allowed to burn it?! Maybe we were more 'grown up' when we were young, more responsible, than children of today but I know my parents never gave it a second thought. And none of my brothers or myself ever managed to burn down a house or nearby bushes or even nearby grass. We knew we had to keep it under control, and we did. I used to love to burn the trash. No, I'm not a pyromaniac. No arsonist blood courses thru my veins. I just liked fire. I liked the way it hypnotized me as I watched it. I loved the beauty of the flames. On a cold day, I loved the heat it generated. I loved roasting hotdogs or marshmallows over the flames if we had any extra on hand...our Mom never minded us snatching a handful of either to cook over the fire. They never tasted quite as good as those roasted over a wood campfire, but they still tasted mighty fine! I know this is a childhood joy of mine I'll never be able to share with my grandkids. I know it's no longer 'ecologically friendly'. And I find that sad.
But there are still real campfires we can share with them. I'm looking forward to that. And rivers and creek beds where we can let them throw rocks out to their hearts' desire. Where they can wade out and catch crawdads and salamanders. Those are some of my childhood experiences I can share. I'm thankful for those, at least. And I'm thankful I haven't lost my tomboy heart, that I still enjoy playing in mud puddles. Only now I have the added pleasure of playing in them with my grandson.