As children, our backyards were a place of mystery, a place where the seeds of dreams took root and grew into flights of fancy and adventures that the children of my neighborhood and I knew to be true.
One month we would be treasure hunters, digging holes with our parents’ garden tools to unearth gold and ancient treasures, another we would be fearless explorers, roaming properties adjacent to ours, narrowly avoiding the crotchety old neighbor and his raging pitchfork, all in the name of finding undiscovered lands in which to build our latest fort.
Another month, we would be entrepreneurs in a settler village, setting up shops and businesses in the row of trees behind our houses, that we called “Main Street”.
Andrew would run the Police station, Melissa the hairdressers’ and Mark and I would fight over who would run the Fire Station and who the General Store, while Mark’s small sister would toddle around, ensuring that all of our services were required simultaneously.
There we would play until the sound of our mother’s and father’s voices could be heard ringing out in the dusk, calling our names to come indoors before it got dark.
And then we’d reluctantly scurry inside, until the next day dawned and we could begin our game once again.
Then one summer, it suddenly became obvious that those games were no longer appropriate for us, and no one came out to play anymore.
No longer could parents’ voices be heard, calling their offspring inside out of the twilight, since young adolescents were already inside, tying up phone lines with giggles and whispers, or curled up moodily with books and homework.
Sometimes looking at this picture I can still hear echoes of my father’s voice, calling me to come inside for the night. I miss that time of simplicity in my life.
Emily Jones (Ottawa, Canada)