“I’m going outside!” yelled the little girl. “Ok” her mother yelled back rolling her eyes and continued her sewing. The door banged shut behind the girl and she was off around the corner of the house, over a patch of weedy grass, following the tree line to the ditch by the road.
She paused and looked up and down the road, seeing only a far off dust cloud that told of a receding car.
The sun is high as she turns right, and walks in the bottom of the ditch and, still following the tree line, reaches the corner of the property. There she looks down her gravel road and, nearly a mile away, sees a car passing on the paved road. There is field of rich black dirt dry and thirsty right before her and the trees of the two closest neighbors to the left and right. There is a small bridge between her and the left neighbor, whose name she does not know, where she plays sometimes. But that is not her
Today she wants to play on The Logs. They are fallen trees that are to her right, right on the edge of the property. They are a pile of trees laid all together and on top of one another; old and somewhat rotten cottonwoods put there by her father and the neighbors before she was born. She climbs up her favorite entrance which is between two root clusters, both still clinging to their original earth. One is small, not even half her height, the other huge, probably twice her height and still covered in clay from its previous depth. She climbs up and down and walks the old trees’ length. They are laid almost like steps with the occasional cross trunk or branch. She is not good at climbing vertical trees like her sister so these horizontal trees are
She pretends she is an adventurer, crossing great expanses to reach her goal of rescuing her friend, winding her path back and forth with only slight variations to signal a change in her story. She stops at a nook, a mire gap where two trees convex away from each other. Here she is finding aid on her adventure, shelter from a storm, food supplies, and a gun (which she stored up last time she played here). It is made from a single small branch; straight but with two curving offshoots that are
She travels the length again and finds a place to hide behind the biggest trunk where she can shoot the passing cars. They have transformed into tanks and enemy troops and she is now a spy protecting her fellow spies and their base. She sees her father’s pickup coming down the road and she refrains from shooting him (though she may have when he was on the paved road without knowing it was him) and stands to wave at him as he passes. The sun is now setting, orange taking over the sky’s regular blue. The child jumps to a new position, taking over a post from a wounded defender. It’s not good enough, she has to retreat. Back and forth, back and forth, slipping around the enemy, a new post, retreat, advance, rescue a fallen comrade.
The sun has slipped behind the horizon and pinks and purples fill the sky. She loses her gun (tucked safely away in a new nook); it is getting cool at last. A breeze has sprung up and she stands victorious, her arms flung wide feeling and enjoying the breeze. She climbs down intending to raid the dungeon of the defeated enemy to rescue her friend at last. Her mother calls. The sky is dusky and dark blue and it is past supper time. “I’m coming!” She yells yanking her invisible friend up. They run hand in hand to the place she entered earlier and jump the last few steps down and with that momentum she continues running. Up the ditch, left to the house and in to supper, her silent friend left behind at The Logs. She isn’t worried. They will see each other again tomorrow.
Anna Mae Tollefson. (Copyright, September 2014)
One of my favorite activities in the summer when I was young was playing on The Logs. This is just a general look at what I did the countless times I played there. Sometimes I had friends or cousins with me, but mostly I played there alone (I did NOT want my older siblings to invade my