A few days ago Wil Wheaton posted a question on his blog: if you had to pick one toy that defined your childhood, what would it be? As I thought about it I rejected most of the toys that popped into my head--Rainbow Bright, Strawberry Shortcake and her crew, Barbie, Cabbage Patch Dolls, Rubik's cube, Atari--and settled on something that couldn't be bought in a store. The house I spent my early childhood years in had a patch of dirt just beneath the living room windows. We called it "the dirt pile", and I spent countless hours there making mud pies, "cleaning" the area with a broom, playing house, and chasing bugs. Once I painted the front porch with mud made from the dirt pile; mom wasn't pleased with my decorating. Six or seven of my formative years were spent playing in the dirt.
Thinking of my dirt pile made me think of leaf houses. Remember those? Me and my friends made them this time of year. Once the leaves start falling from the trees, you rake them into an outline of a house. Basically it's a floor plan out in the yard. Then you play house in it. Usually a mom would donate a blanket to use as a bed, and another mom would bring us brownies or chips to eat in the kitchen. How old were we then ... between fifth and eighth grades, probably. I remember making them for a few years then stopping ... and I don't think I made one at the house with the dirt pile ... so that's probably about right.
Funny, isn't it? When we're kids we pretend we're adults; as adults we pretend we're kids.