Sunday, January 9, 2011

Bad Country and Flying Mattresses Redux

First posted 9/10

My children seemed to have grown up too fast and suddenly I'm left with plenty of time to reflect on their childhood. A little Super 8 movie plays 24-7 in my brain about those years. Other little Super 8 movies play too, mostly my fantasy camp ones, where I can be whoever I want to be. :) But, the kids' movie is real and I can't manipulate that one.

Often I think about the things I could have done better and the times I blew it. I always hope they forget about those times and remember the good stuff. Right now two things that were not planned but created good memories have been dancing around in my head. One was Bad Country and the other was Mattress Trips.

We built our house in a big field on the edge of a wooded area. We cut down trees and moved dirt to carve out a space for our home. We left the field and the wooded areas that we didn't need for the house, alone.

In the wooded area and field we mowed what started out to be a path but the riding mower took on a mind of its own and with twists and turns the path became a labyrinth. We kept it mowed that way for many years and as the field grew the paths disappeared from view from the house. They were still there, but invisible to a cautious parent watching from the kitchen window.

The labyrinth came to be called, "Bad Country" for the same reason a blanket becomes a Bop, a pacifier becomes a Nuk and Grandfather becomes Pop-pop. Nobody remembers why or when the name was born, but Bad Country it was. Bad County became the natural playground for an imaginative boy and girl. Finding unusual plants and little animals plus holes formed by the underground springs kept the little boy's attention for many afternoons. A tiny shallow pond where it was easy to find minnows and snakes and gems in the water sat close by.

The mattress took flight on rainy days when the boy and girl were quite small. With nothing else to do before nap time but read a story, I began to invent an adventure that started right in the house.

The three of us would climb on the king sized mattress just as the roof opened up to reveal the vast blue sky. The mattress would lift from the frame and up we'd go high above the house floating safely toward the east coast and Atlantic Ocean. We'd be able to peak over the side and watch the ground pass beneath us as we soared down the coast naming each state as we passed over it, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and finally to Florida and beyond until we found our special island.

The flying mattress would land softly on the sand and we'd live on our island for as long as we wanted. Plenty of fresh fruit and easily caught fish plus fire wood and matches I'd always conveniently have in my pocket, helped us survive.

We'd play until our hair grew long and curly, and our jeans and t-shirts, torn and bleached white from the salt water and hot sun, were mere shreds of cloth covering our skin. I told them we'd be brown as toast as we built sand castles and collected shells.

Soon it would be time to climb on the mattress for the trip home and up we'd go again floating gently back up the coast, into the top of our house and gently down on the bed frame again.

They loved these stories and they began adding their own details to the trips. It was fun while it lasted, but you know kids, they make a habit of growing up, darn them, and Bad Country and Flying Mattress are now distant memories of good times.

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