Friday, May 15, 2009

Enchanted Childhood

I'm just back from a quick trip to North Carolina. My stated purpose for the trip was to check a few things off my list. Rental house, school visits, construction loan. Check, check, check.

But really, I needed to see our property again. The excitement of purchasing has long worn off and though and google earth are fun, they feel very make-believe. I needed to walk the land, see the trees, smell the earth. In a bit of a red-eye induced haze, I followed the GPS to our new address and fell immediately under its enchantment.

Our property has a few acres of pasture. It's pretty and necessary, but it's the woods that draw me in. I picture my children exploring, climbing over the fallen trees and making forts under the brambles. I hope they will love it as much as I do, but I am also coming to realize that some, or perhaps even most, of the impetus for this move is a desire to recreate my own childhood. My sisters, friends, and I spent many hours exploring the former tree nursery adjacent to our yard. Now a small development with "luxury" homes, then it supported forts and climbing trees and hours of adventure, often based on our lives as orphans. Is it a universal childhood imagination - life without adults? As an adult now, I suppose it is about imagining a life without rules or structure.

Our property goes to the top of a ridge. Near the ridge, the slope levels out a little and there is a lovely clearing that begs for a picnic table or at least a hammock. In a grand old tree are the bones of a treehouse past. I imagine the child who inhabited the treehouse is probably as old as I - perhaps older. The tree is ready to host another generation, and I hope the tree and the land will cast their spell on my children. Perhaps someday, they too will remember an enchanted childhood.

My dreams for this move extend beyond sharing my favorite childhood experiences with my own children. It is about getting back something we've lost or at least buried in the busy-ness of work, children, chores - a more active giving outside of ourselves. I'm not sure yet where this need will go, but its another little thing planted. We'll see what comes of it.