When I was little and it was summer, I would run. Run to get where I needed to go. I was always up for a game of tag–of running bases between the sturdy poles of the clothesline. I would run barefoot over the grass for as long as I could (before the grown-ups would insist I put my shoes back on).
You would think with all this running that I grew up on acres somewhere in the country. But I didn’t. I am from a small backyard, squished between two other small backyards each with their own secret things.
One side of my yard was a wooden wall–the color of mint chocolate chip ice cream. It was the wall of the neighbor’s garage. We had pussy willow growing against it. And one day, Nick ran too fast–tumbled right into those woody branches and got one caught in his leg. I followed him inside, while holding my ears against his screams as the flustered moms, interrupted of their coffee and cigarettes, pulled it out.
There was a low fence (made of chicken wire, maybe?) that lined the backside of the yard. Along it grew our vegetable garden–peppers, tomatoes, eggplants. This fence was not sturdy, and any strong, lithe and backyard-wise girl of eight or so, knew instinctively not to climb it.
The third side was built of a rusty cyclone fence softened with sweet, yellow and white honeysuckle. This belonged to Grandma and Grandpa. Just on the other side grew rose bushes, blue hydrangeas and delicate Lily of the Valley–pretty things that don’t belong where children play.
Most days I was happy enough contained within a space of those sweet honeysuckle, blades of grass, bitter dandelion, and blushing clover. I tasted it all, took sips from the hose and delighted in my self-sufficiency. I didn’t know it then of course, but I was learning how to feed myself.