Saturday 4 April 2009

In the woods where I walked as a child

In the woods where I walked as a child
there was a magical glade,
with pines and grass and ferns,
where we picked wild strawberries,
and carried them carefully home for tea.

In the woods where I walked as a child,
there were enormous expanses of rhododendrons,
where we hid, and made dens,
and played tracking and "Germans" with our friends.

In the woods where I walked as a child,
there was a huge pond,
full of wiggles and darts and frogspawn,
which we netted and took home in jam jars.

In the woods where I walked as a child,
there was a horrible, spooky path
which led to a shack and a surly man
and two fierce dogs on a chain.
We never went down there.

I went back to the woods where I walked long ago.
There were houses and roads on the strawberry glade,
and I couldn't find the pond.
Rhododendrons still bloomed, but no children played.
Were they all at home, and forbidden to roam
alone in the woods?

© Gillian Peall


Sue said...

What are wiggles and darts?? Lovely to see those pictures :-)

Gilly said...

Little unknown water creatures that wiggled and darted! We didn't know what they were then!

The woods don't look like that now :(

Sweet Virginia Breeze said...

What a lovely poem! We were always in the woods when I was a child. It's a shame that children today don't have the freedom we had as children.

much2ponder said...

Gilly; How beautiful this poem is. I love it! I love the picture too. It helps me to realize who's words I am reading. You are a blessing to me:)

awareness said...

Gilly...our childhoods were very the same...and your poem captures much of what i remember too. My backyard led to a creek and wild strawberries...apples! In the spring we spent hours catching wiggles and darts (tadpoles? :) with our nets and played many games until we were called in for dinner. there was an old walking bridge we could cross to visit a barn with horses. The old woods and orchards are long gone, replaced by houses.

My kids still go back to the creek and the tall grass when we visit my parents...but its very different than when I was young.

Carolyn said...

A beautiful poem.

Growing up in a moderately dry part of the Western United States, we had to go to the mountains or a few miles to the nearest river to be in the woods. But my friends and I did climb through barbed wire fences on "Horse's Hill" (where a hospital has now replaced the alfalfa) on the way to our elementary school and then we traversed a fascinating small, swampy spot where there were even leeches. Got one on my hand once. It left a scar when I pulled it off.

We roamed through brush in the hills, scaring up a pheasant or surprising a few deer once in a while. We were frequently warned to watch for rattlesnakes, but seldom saw one.

Kids don't do things like that much today, and it's not just because there are fewer wild places. Here are descriptions of a couple of books on the subject: Last Child in the Woods and Free Range Kids, the latter focusing on the UK, according to the description.

Our National Institute of Health now warns against exposing infants and small children to electronic media for more than brief periods, as is seems to be important for children to develop patterns of responding to real people and real nature before they get into habits of responding to electronic stimuli.

Strawberry Jam Anne said...

I loved your poem Gilly - it brought back so many memories for me of my childhood.

I think I may well have wiggles and darts in my garden pond! A x

Gilly said...

Its lovely and so interesting to hear about all your childhoods. Seems we all had much more freedom then than children do now. Such a shame!

And yes, didn't we all do the equivalent of climbing through barbed wire fences to get somewhere we weren't supposed to go! Such a lovely feeling - sort of secretly escaping and exploring!

kenju said...

Gilly, that poem really appeals to me, since I was in the woods everyday from ages 8 to 12. I loved the creeks, caves, big rocks and may apples we'd find.

Re your comment: In Costa Rica my daughter and I saw a poinsettia tree! It was on the grounds of our hotel and it was about 10'tall and at least 8 feet in diameter. I had no idea they got that big!

theMuddledMarketPlace said...
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