Thursday, October 27, 2011

Back to the Prairie: Just a Child at Play

   Long summer days faded into fall on the prairie; each days work grew as harvests came. When the canner was full the grandmothers would sit and chat while I slipped out to find my freedom in the big prairie farm.

   Canning day: trapped in the kitchen with jars and lids, beans and carrots and....the pressure canner. I saw a jar explode in that thing and I've been afraid of it every since. As the grandmothers become busy chatting over boiling pots opportunity opens; time to make my getaway!
   Slipping out the back door, I dart through the garage dodging little kitties on the way. No time to stop and pet one, goodness, the grandmothers might spot me through the screen door and chain me to the endless buckets of beans to snap or cherries to pit...ewe, no way..I'm running. Down the sloping gravel drive as fast as little bare feet can go (why didn't I think to slip on the shoes..oh, yea, no time!). Grass welcomes my toes near the tree line..another old friend greets me there: the old round rope swing.
   I don't know where it came from or how long it's been here, but I never remember a time when it wasn't here. Long yellow rope hangs high from the big the bottom an orange plastic disk is the perfect size for me. At the edge of the grassy area a smile creeps across my face. My feet take off with record speed toward the flying leap, my hands catch the rope as I make my way onto the swing.
   At the top of the sway the fall sun kisses my cheeks softly; my eyes close as the warmth embraces me. Gravity pulls me back to the earth tugging wisps of my hair free from their braids; they dance around my face like dandelion fluff. Again! Tugging the rope as far as it reaches I leap on and start the joyful cycle again; ah, freedom!
   Dozens and dozens of jumps and swirls, twirls and spins restore my little soul (after hours of kitchen canning torture). Then, in the corner of my eye, the tank! Near the swing sits a huge propane tank- shiny silver and big! Really big! In the summer that tank gets hot enough to eat your flesh right off your legs, but in fall...such would be so fun.
   I dart the the garage, grab one of the braided rugs we use to sit on the metal lawn chairs...this will make a perfect horse blanket. Back down the slope to the grassy patch..excitement gives me tingles. I know I shouldn't, quick look...then..
   Tossing the blanket on my sturdy steed I hop on his back. "Giddy-up," I command as I lean forward..bouncing with his mighty gallop. My hands hold the 'reigns' and my feet kick at his sides while we ride swiftly over the prairie grasses....braids flying as his main flicks my face. A giggle can't help but escape my lips...until.
   "What on earth are you doing?" ....busted! Here it comes...the 'you're going to blow yourself up' lecture and enslavement to the canning jars.

   In all the years I spent on my grandparent's prairie home, the orange disk rope swing hung there at the base of the drive right near the big propane tank. My grandmother would always warn me about the risk of getting blown up from bumping that tank; sometimes the temptation was just too much. God must surely have been watching me; it never did explode in all my rambunctious naughtiness. I suppose He understand the silly heart of a little child just at play.

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