A childhood sanctuary

Hello dear reader,

I have no idea what to write about today, so I’m just going to start and see what comes out. 

It’s stopped snowing and the sun is shining brightly.  The sky is that deep blue that I’ve never seen anywhere besides here, with light fluffy clouds floating by.  They’re the kind of clouds that are made for lying on your back in the grass and watching, seeing animals and castles and anything else your imagination can invent.  It’s a perfect day to sit in the sun and read a book, or better yet, lie in a hammock and read a book.  It’s the kind of day sheets should be flapping on a clothesline getting that wonderful smell that can’t be gotten any other way.  It’s a day to have all the windows in the house open, letting the fresh air make everything smell clean.  Very soon the wildflowers will be blooming everywhere.  They bring a rainbow of colors that are constantly changing, making the mountains look like a multi-colored quilt still being made.  It is almost time for camping and hiking, being in the middle of nature and all it’s glory.  Leadville is a very small town, but even here there are the sounds of cars and motorcycles, stereos blasting, and sirens wailing,  In the woods there is none of that.

When I was a young child in Coventry, Connecticut I lived very near Wangumbaug lake.  It was a wonderful place.  In the summer “the shack” would be open.  It was a little building where you could buy candy, chips, soft drinks, and on the weekend they even sold hamburgers and hot dogs. 
To get to the beach from my house, I turned left from the house and went to the end of the dirt road (it was called Fox Trail), then made a left to go down Wangumbaug hill.  This was one of the steepest hills I’ve ever seen in my life.  Being able to ride your bike all the way up the hill was a rite of passage, a show of strength and determination.  At the bottom of Wangumbaug hill was another hill.  There was a road down to the beach, but the rest of it was a wonderful grassy hillside.  At the bottom of the road down to the beach was the usual sandy beach and the lake.  On weekends during the summer they would show free movies at the beach.  Everyone would come with their blankets and sit on the grassy hillside to watch the movie.  The shack did a lot of business on movie nights. 

Wangumbaug lake was part of winter fun as well.  The lake would freeze and people would skate on it.  I loved to jump on a sled at the top of Wangumbaug hill, race down it then hit the hill to the beach.  The speed would propel me a good ways onto the lake.  It was worth the huffing and puffing it took to get the sled back to the top for that incredible ride down.

If I were to  turn right from the house and go to the end of Fox Trail, then turn right on the blacktop I would go down a much gentler hill and to wooded area.  A stream ran between the road and the woods.  I caught my first fish in that stream.  To get to the woods, I had to jump from rock to rock across the stream.  On the other side of the stream was a small trail (probably a deer trail) that led into the woods.  It didn’t take long to be surrounded by trees, shaded by all the leaves.  The ground was soft and mossy.   The only sounds were the birds and the crickets.  Following the trail even further,  I would come to a beautiful field.  It was almost a perfect circle with trees surrounding all of it.  In this field were beautiful flowers, grass, and sunshine.   Those woods were my hideaway.  I’ve mentioned in previous posts that my childhood consisted of misery and abuse.  But in the field, in the woods, there was no screaming, no pain, and most of all no fear.  There was peace and beauty and, as strange as it may sound, love.  There was an incredible sense of freedom.  I could be alone surrounded by beauty.

Even in the winter the woods were full of beauty.  One of my clearest memories is of an ice storm.  Everyone was upset because the power was out and it was hard to get anywhere on the roads.   There was also no school, of course, so I went for a walk to my hideaway.  The sun was shining and everything sparkled brightly.  The trees seemed to be covered with diamonds.  The stream was frozen and the snow wasn’t very deep, so off to my hideaway I went.  There were no birds singing or crickets chirping, just absolute silence and stillness.  There were no flowers, but the field was covered in beautiful pristine snow.  I didn’t go into the field because I didn’t want my footprints to mar the perfection.  I just stood at the edge of the field for a long time basking in the beauty and perfect stillness.

Well, that’s what came out today. Thank you for taking this stroll down memory lane with me.

Until next time….

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