Years ago, sometime in my life between the ages of 0 and 6, my siblings and I did some odd things to entertain ourselves during the dog days of summer. During this time, we lived on a farm in a rural community and had plenty of world to explore and discover around us.
I remember playing in the ditch in front of our house, watching the water skeeters glide across the surface of the standing water, wondering how in the world they used to say on top of it like that. We would hide in a small thicket between the back of the house and the the sheds behind. We’d dare each other to eat the sour, unripened crab apples from the two large crab apple trees that grew in the front yard.
We got into our share of trouble, as well. We weren’t supposed to play in the school buses that they parked between our house and the nearby gas station, but we’d often go check to see if they had accidentally left the door unlocked. Every once in a while we’d get lucky enough to find a way inside, and then play “school bus driver”, repeatedly opening and closing the manually operated door for hundreds of imaginary children on their way to school.
Sometimes we had big farm equipment parked at our house, too. I remember having the panic attack of my life when my dad put my brothers and I up in the bucket front end loader, extending it high above the ground, and then shutting off the tractor and walking away, pretending to have left and forgotten about us. WHAT! WHAT! How was I supposed to get down! I was just a little guy!
There are other memories too, like when my sister was babysitting us, and got so mad she locked us into the pantry… but we were not afraid! My oldest brother had his pocket knife and before we knew it he had a bottle of mom’s garden fresh green beans open and ready for consumption. We could survive for weeks in there on mom’s bottling and Brandon’s pocket knife.
Recently, another memory came rushing back that I had all but forgotten. It was when my older two brothers decided one summer to dig a hole in our side yard. It was the coolest idea ever!
Why would we dig a random hole in our side yard, you ask? Who knows! Why do boys play with worms or eat dirt? No one knows! All we knew was that there was dirt, there were shovels, and we were bored. The perfect combination for a hole!
The hole was dug over the span of several days or weeks, and our goal of digging the deepest hole ever was formulated. The hole did get pretty deep, because I remember getting put down into the hole and it was high above my head. Of course, my brothers then walked away as if to leave me in the hole, and once again I would panic and cry… (yes, I have abandonment issues now…)
I think the hole reached a depth at one time that they constructed a makeshift ladder out of 2×4 scraps in order to get to the bottom of the hole and continue the big dig. I thought to myself that this would be the hole to end all holes, and that it would probably go to china.
One day, the hole had water in the bottom, and so we were SURE we had struck water! Who knew what might be next.. oil maybe?
The inevitable day came quickly, though, when the all-seeing Mother found out about the hole. We had been ingeniously covering it with a sheet of plywood thinking there was no way she’d ever find out, but somehow she discovered it anyway… Then, sadly, made my brothers fill it back in. (They always took the rap… thanks guys!)
The end of the hole may have marked the end of a dream for three boys, but more likely just spawned a new wave of childhood creativity in those dog days of the mountain summer.