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In the Forest, Children at Play...

Updated: Apr 20, 2020

'I knew he was here somewhere, I could hear the sound of a branch snap...'

‘I crept forward slowly, listening between my steps. I knew I would find him eventually, it was just a matter of time. My brother was good at hiding, and although I was a girl, and a couple years older, I wouldn’t let him get the best of me, just because he was the boy...’ As young children, we were never allowed to stay indoors for most of the day at the lake. Those were still the days of ‘children should be seen and not heard’, and at the lake, it was no different. The chores and things to do for daily cabin upkeep for our parents was so manual there, with no power or real amenities, and so they always had lots to do, and were kept very busy. My parents especially welcomed their quiet moments of dock rest or the quiet time to just sit read a book, often in the late afternoons. So, just like in the city, children in those days played outside and mostly on their own. It seemed there was never the same level of fear and watch that there is today. At the cabin we had no electronic devices, or even battery-operated devices for the most part. So, in those beautiful, adventurous younger years, (when we were finally old enough for our parents to trust us to be loose somewhat in the forest, of course), we were released to play right after the words my mother would say often, “as long as you don’t go far”. And so, today, like each day, we took off and amused ourselves. The forest and lake environment is rich for inspiring make-believe games and play. It is also a brilliant place to play Hide and Seek. Hide and Seek in a forest is very different than playing Hide and Seek around the house back home in the city. Here you have to be very, very silent, in the forest, and very, very, stealth, almost invisible with which to hide. Sure, there are bushes and trees and rocks to hide behind, but it is the way you have to be silent, and almost invisible so you will not be found. Camouflage fabrics weren’t really a thing in those days, unless somebody had some old army gear, nobody, and I mean nobody, hunted around here, at least not in the summer months when I was ever living there. Consequently, because of my usual summer wear I often wore white or brightly coloured clothing, which often made it harder to hide. And so, my brother and I would amuse ourselves for hours, out in the bush. Scrapped knees and scratches from branches were no big deal with all the swimming we did. With no running water, or showers, we did a whole lot of swimming, especially in the peak of the summer months. A refreshing dip in the lake would instantly cool us down, and wash away the grimy, caked-on dirt from playing, plus soothe the scratches and the few mosquito bites that inevitably were part of cabin life. I always say that the mosquitos are healthy mosquitos here, and their bites never itch like the mosquito bites seem to do in a filthy, busy, polluted city environment. This may or not be true, but the mosquito bites accumulated at the lake are rarely the kind that make you want to scratch a limb off.  And so, my brother and I in my youth would run through the forests, wild and free. We clambered up cliffs, (yes, there are cliffs, but that never fazed us), and we lept over rocks and fallen logs, climbed trees, and found numerous amusing adventures in the woods. We were young, limber, healthy and carefree, and it was fabulous! A simple whistle or call from one of our parents to come in for lunch was easily heard. We would then scurry back, collect our food, usually a sandwich served on a paper towel, and go out on the deck, or down to the dock to eat. Life was good.  ‘This day, I am standing here so still, just listening intensely for my brother to give himself away in our little Hide and Seek game. It was only a matter of time before he would eventually move and create the tiniest of sounds, a rustle of a bush, or a snap of a branch. Ah, yes, there it was, he was hiding just up ahead by the old wooden ground fort. I had him now!’

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