Posted by Laurie Ryan
Today, my friend Marion Spicher is joining us. I’ve known Marion for a few years. We met through local writing organizations and struck up a friendship. Marion is actively working on her writing career, with two manuscripts completed and a third celtic historical halfway done. She writes a blog designed to lift (and calm) spirits and does a lot to further the education of aspiring writers. As well, she’s written some very evocative poems. Today she’s shared a great story about life in a small town to tell us about. Take it away,Marion! And welcome to Over The Backyard Fence.
Growing up in a Rocky Mountain town of 1000 in the fifties, a girl could find mischief or create adventures … fun at the time … but in retrospect, could have been dangerous. Here’s one of those stories from my teenage years.
Four thirteen-year-old girls, wanting to be as brave as the boys, met on my back porch. Stuffed into our backpacks, we stowed matches, food, utensils, small ax and shovel, newspaper, cigarettes, (smoking was considered mischief in the fifties) and chocolate bars. We tied our warm jackets around our waists, donned the backpacks, and slung the sleeping bag strap over our shoulders.
We headed away from civilization before our parents could change their minds. Climbing up, up, up amidst the tall jack pines, our boots treaded over dirt, roots, and deadfall trees. The forest smelled of evergreens and damp earth. Broken only by the susurrus of breezes through the pines, boots on the trail and our chatter, the cathedral silence prevailed.
A mile from home, we found a flat place and set up camp. We gathered firewood, dug a fire pit, and laid boulders around the rim. After clearing large and small stones away we unrolled our sleeping bags, radiating like spokes from the fire. Noisy crows perched in the high branches as the last rays of sun streaked through holes in the forest canopy.
Sitting cross-legged around our campfire, we talked about mean parents, making out with boys, and how far we should let them go. We choked on cigarette smoke and dodged the rotating smoke plume from the fire. After frying steaks over the coals, we communally ate out of the pan. Forgot the plates. Delicious.
Our faces illuminated in the dancing firelight, we told ghost stories, and every once in a while, one of us pointed, pretending to see the green reflection of cougar eyes. The full moon high, we crawled into our sleeping bags on the rough ground, and tossed, searching for comfort.
Waking at 4:00 AM, frozen to the bone and shivering, I feigned sleep, waiting until someone else woke up and built a fire. No one stirred. I wriggled into my clothes and started a blaze to thaw my limbs. My camp mates grumbled and pulled sleeping bags over their heads, but when aromas of bacon and eggs wafted their way, they soon joined me.
I stowed my gear, brushed twigs and imaginary insects out of my hair and sank deep into a hot bath. Needing a nap, I first savored the sweet clean smell of my flannel nightgown, fresh laundered and hung outside to dry, by a mother’s love. And then dove into my clean cozy bed.
In retrospect, what could have gone wrong?
- A puff of wind or flying sparks could have started a forest fire.
- Storing and eating aromatic food could have lured a bear or a cougar.
I guess we just didn’t live in fear back then. How about you? Did you have any life-empowering events when you were growing up? Or something, thinking back, that makes you wonder why your parents ever let you do it?
You can read more aboutMarion and her writing at: