Warm weather always reminds me that country kids know how to have fun. An eight-year old from the Denver area made me think about this when he entertained me with adventures he enjoyed at a trampoline and arcade business near his home. After he detailed hours of good times performing tricks and challenging friends, I wondered what my grandkids would remember about their country childhoods. Thank goodness, I spied two teens playing a crazy game of either hide-n- seek or paint ball war in between lined up hay bales along Highway 24. That nudge reminded me boredom wouldn’t affect anyone growing up in our family.
When those first seeds of concern sprouted, I should’ve thought about the farm kid essays I read during decades as a rural English teacher. On many occasions, I burst out laughing either in the middle of class while students read independently and I graded, or I interrupted quiet family evenings with guffaws that made my husband question my sanity. Could wielding a red pen be that much fun?
Nothing beats bales for fort building, hideouts in hedge apple wars, or simple jumping exercises. Who needs trampolines when you can leap from one round mound to the next as you strengthen your legs and your balance? Add someone to chase you, and the thrills multiply. For less adrenalin-rush inclined youngsters, these offer quiet refuges for cloud watching.
Not only do humans enjoy fragrant bundles of straw, hay, or alfalfa, critters like them too. Youngsters often spot red tails or northern harriers perched atop them, spying their next meal. A favorite story detailed a kid plowing and spying a bobcat snoozing lazily atop giant shredded wheat shapes paralleling his work zone. Talk to farm or ranch folk, and watch their eyes smile when they tell about finding the farm cat with her litter of kittens tucked snugly into the hay.
Bales aren’t the only kind of fun country kids enjoy. Hot days lend themselves to unplanned dips in farm ponds or stock tanks. Unlike the municipal pool, swimsuits aren’t required. Youngsters can leap in fully clothed or not. Swimmers splash and giggle alongside the family dog or maybe feel stocked fish nibbling their toes. Mossy bottoms add adventure as soaked participants attempt to exit upright from the water.
Rural escapades don’t end when the sun goes down. Evenings offer opportunities to star gaze or count satellites arcing overhead in dark night skies un-littered by bright neon. On warm summer nights, entertainment includes counting and maybe catching flitting fireflies. Who doesn’t love watching a beetle with a blinking tail crawl up an arm or leg? That tickle combined with the on/off glow is pure magic.
Hang around country kids for a while, and you realize a word is missing from their vocabulary. It’s the overused modern term—boredom. When you live in a landscape that constantly challenges you and permits your imagination to run wild, adventures await 24/7.