At the request of my dear friend and former student, Jerry, I am writing again about my childhood.
My cousins and I spent every weekend on my grandparents’ farm, where we searched for Jessie Simmons’ tongue, and our sweet Grandma Cleobelle rarely let us in the house if it was nice out. So we spent a lot of time inventing games, climbing trees, and getting into trouble.
In front of the barn, there was a perpetual mud puddle. After it rained, it could be as deep as halfway up to our shins. During the drought of 1988, it turned into flake clay mud that blew away in the dry wind. But for the majority of my childhood, it was a mud puddle.
We rejoiced in riding our bikes through it, spraying water up on our backs and the cousins who were unlucky enough to ride behind us. We filled water guns and Solo cups for water fights, and built mud pies out of the thick mud below the rocks. And if we were lucky enough to find something that floated, we had make-believe sea adventures. Even though Grandma wouldn’t let us into the house after such antics, we still played in the mud puddle, ate dinner with our muddy hands, and smear mud on our arms and faces like war paint.
What is it about a puddle, or mud, or dirt that draws children in? Perhaps it’s an innate instinct to locate water and exist near it. Perhaps it is just because we can.