The old plum tree on the top level of our backyard. Every year, mom would say “don’t eat too many plums” and every year at least two of us, my three brothers and I, would get tummy aches… or worse. But oh, the magic of that gnarled old tree with the lichen and Spanish moss hanging on it.
It is trimmed for winter now, but when it is in full dangling growth, it is a cave, a grotto, a hideout for adventurous games of all sorts.
Flowers were magical then, but in other ways than they are now. They were a splash of blurry color to brighten our wild adventures, they were set decorations for jungle exploring on a tropic isle, beset by cannibals and pirates.
Birds were magical.
I mean, come on, they can fly.
A flower was just a part of the wildlands that was our garden back then, when it seemed so much bigger, bigger than it could ever have possibly been.
A vine-covered metal fence was a cage where they locked us savage seafarers up, and from which we had to make our escape.
Damp leaves were our friends, our hiding places, our building materials.
We didn’t see many squirrels back then. Squirrels are strangely reluctant to approach a pack of wild boy-children at play.
Our jungle island was lush, our forests deep and dark.
Full of wild creatures and wilder men.
The garden was full of underground tunnels and hand-made forts. Wars were fought, truces made and broken. As we got older, and made many friends in the neighborhood, our range expanded, but still, we found our way back to this garden, as I still do today.
Because this garden is as much a home as the house behind which it sits.