Monday, March 12, 2012

The Enchanted Canyon

When I was between the ages of four and eight and my father was in medical school, we lived in Connecticut in a condominium complex. While the homes were brand new in the 70s, featuring shag carpeting, bold wallpaper, and orange and olive-green appliances, the surroundings seemed untamed and enduring. We had a salamander-stocked creek trickling through the backyard shaded by willow trees, and our little neighborhood abutted a wooded hillside.

As kids we had free run of the place, riding our big wheels up and down the cul-de-sacs and winding paths between buildings, traipsing in the stream, and venturing into the woods, unsupervised and en masse, to explore, collect artifacts, and play imaginative and elaborate games. I remember half-building forts and abandoning them. I have a scar on my knee from when my brother and I doubled on his tricycle and tumbled headlong down the hill, and where the tire swing up in the woods hit that scab repeatedly. I couldn't stay away long enough to let it heal.

Those years in Connecticut comprise my most magical childhood memories. We were a tight-knit community of young families, and despite the fact that we moved away when I was merely eight years old, we remain in touch with several families and Facebook has brought me and my Hampton Park buddies back into one another's orbits.

Our daughters are now the same age my brother and I were when the woods of Hampton Park were our stomping grounds.  Living as we do now, however, in a semi-urban environment and in different times, our girls aren't as free to explore the streets of our neighborhood, largely due to our own discomfort and fears for their safety.  But we've found an enchanted canyon--a glorious escape nestled in the neighborhood--and it's become part of (what we hope is) our daughters' magical childhood. 

The canyon has become our place to go when friends come over to play.  We picnic in the canyon. When there's time after homework and before sunset, we head to the canyon.

We gravitate to the enchanted canyon when we need a breath of fresh air.  We visit the canyon to hear the sound of the wind and creaking tree boughs.  We explore the canyon with our dog:

Fairies live in the canyon. We know it because they leave their sparkly dust in trails, so we venture down there for fairy hunts:

We love the canyon for the thrill of an exhilarating swing from a tree and down the hillside:

Where was your magical childhood escape? 

Come visit, so we can share the canyon with you. 

1 comment:

youngadultish said...

The cul-de-sac I lived on from the ages of 2-10 had a canyon across the street from my house. We built forts, we slid down hills, we got scared of rattlesnakes. Once we were old enough, cut through the canyon as a shortcut to school. I'm so envious that you have found a gem like this close to home. Some of my dearest childhood memories involve my canyon.