January 23rd….“WHAT WERE SOME SIMPLE, YET WONDERFUL PLAYTIME EXPERIENCES ON YOUR FARM NEAR KIESTER, MINNESOTA?
As this panivorous, pug-nosed purveyor of playtime plowed through the back-porch screen door, I hollered to our mother, Clarice, “MANGE TAKK!!!” Being that both sides of our family were full-blooded Norwegians, we children had learned that in order to say “Many Thanks!”, in our ancestral language, you’d say two words that sounded like “mahn‘-geh talk”. My little farmer boy’s euphoric effusing came from the happy fact that our loving mother had just finished baking another batch of heavenly-tasting homemade bread!!! I now possessed, in my hands, a thick slice of that delicious delight with an aroma that is hard to describe to the bland lifestyle of today’s children. Still warm in my hands, I grabbed a butter knife and smothered that slice of bread with some honest to goodness, sweet-cream butter that our Kiester Co-op Creamery had made for us.
The happy slap of the wooden screen-door behind me was my cue to now devour this golden piece of “fuel for my furnace”. After licking my fingers clean, now it was: “look out world, here comes the five year old FLASH!!” 😉 Even though I was only “knee high to a grasshopper”, my energy level was immeasurable. I loved to run, just for the joy of looking down and watching my well-worn farm shoes in a blur beneath me while I flew back and forth across our graveled farm yard. As I’d round the corner of the giant Elm trees, that held our tire swing, I’d race up our large front lawn and eventually crash in a heap of smiles on the embankment that sloped towards the gravel road that ran past our wonderful farm.
As my little Norwegian “engine” purred under the “hood” of my heaving chest, I lay in the repose of that sloping lay of our lawn and became lost in the grandiose beauty of the giant, cumulus “castle” clouds that towered over me in that richly blue Minnesota sky. Even The Bible speaks of clouds in the Old Testament Book of Job, Chapter 35 and Verse 5: “Look at the heavens and see, And behold the clouds —-they are higher than you”. Captured in the awe of it all, it seemed like hours passed by, as I’d lay there on my back, in the cool, refreshing grass, and observed those “mountains in the sky” merge and create for me so many white creatures of joy for my imagination. Elephants lumbered by, followed by horses prancing and even giant baby booties would form and then disappear as the prevailing winds gently moved these “sheep of heaven” as they’d give me pleasure from their blue “pasture” above me. Conjuring myself to being a bird, or a powerful airplane, I’d then vicariously fly up there and dive in and out of those white mountains; even having a seat upon the ledge of a cloud that I was sure could hold a five year old like me. Now rested and ready for more fun, I’d see my little sister, Candi, coming towards me from the house. She would gladly join me as we’d enter another playtime of simply rolling down that soft lawn incline towards the gravel road. Sometimes, we were a tire and would roll head over heels. Other play ideas were to lay down and bring in our arms along our sides. We resembled human hot-dogs as we rolled side over side over side down that slope and up the next steeper slope to the roadway. We’d roll and giggle till our little bodies lost all equilibrium and our tummies were about to become the “Duke of Puke”……..but still, it sure was a rich and simple joy that didn’t require batteries or a “smart phone”. 😉
On other playtime occasions, having just completed watching the latest black and white episode of “Superman!” on our old television set, I’d ask our mother to help me find a “cape” of some sort so I could play like my hero from the planet “Krypton”. Her large white bed sheets would’ve been my preferred flying apparatus, but I’d settle for one of her biggest bath towels. Then it was outside I’d “fly” to begin jumping off tractors or tall stacks of hay-bales in my “flight” and then to run as fast as my legs could carry me, all the while looking behind me to see my “cape” flying in the wind just like “Superman’s” did. My imagination station, located between my ears, seemed to always have more adventures just waiting for me to “save the day” and be a hero to all. 😉
Being the minuscule midget of merriment, I found that the most magical time of creating fun was when I could disappear in the vast, wide ditches of tall grass that ran parallel to the gravel road that bordered our farm on the east. Being the pint-sized, bantam boy that I was, it was an easy crawl on my tummy and I soon became one, at ground level, with the little beings that lived in those tall grasses. As daytime morphed into placid evening shadows, those grasses came “alive” with tiny flashing lights. It was as if pixies had landed amongst us from Peter Pan’s Never-Land. In that paradisaical moment, I was now giddily surrounded by the illuminated world of Fireflies (some folks call them Lightning Bugs). Thousands of them “winked” at me, with puff lights on my face, in colors of red, yellow, green and an occasional blue. The tall grasses that surrounded me on those nights were pulsating points of little boy bliss as my luminary “lamps” lit the organic world around me that whispered a boy’s joy thanks to the nocturnal breezes that glanced off the bowing tips of tall grasses. It was truly a magical time for this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.