Come, walk with me and I will show you Fern Springs, the childhood home of a burgeoning author. It was here that love and friendship was cultured. Here that scope was given for the imagination to soar beyond the treetops that touch the clouds. To investigate the mysteries that lie beneath the soil. To spot the secrets that dance across the surface of the pond.
See, here is the sprawling neighborhood, where mothers still watched out for each other’s children. Where kids played together outdoors, not bothered with computer games or X-boxes.
Do not mind the weeds in the flowerbeds of the front yard. Notice instead the green lawn that still rings with the shouts of tag. If you hold quite still you can feel the mist of the sprinkler, and see the rainbow as a young girl passes through the spray from one world to another of imagined delights.
Look closely beyond these houses, and see the ghosts of times past, when the land was a field scattered with trees. Smell the swamp that grew so tightly with reeds that a child could walk right on top of the water without so much as getting her feet wet. Listen and hear the frogs, and the creek that gurgles merrily, yet holds a hint of danger in the poacher’s trap that lies hidden beneath the surface.
Now step up on the covered front porch, where the swing creaks in the wind. See the fancy dresses swirling as the princess flees her duties? Or the solemn judges, presiding over court? Listen, do you hear the clack of the rails, as the porch turns into a train?
Open the door, and be careful not to slip on the wood floor that still shows signs of practiced figure skating twirls. Pass the stairs, worn with marks that tell of sleeping bag bobsleds and dangerous mountain climbing experiences, and come into the kitchen. Here is where laughter and games are found. A bubble still rises from the sink where a little girl scrubs dishes. Over the clank of the glasses, you can hear the melody and harmony of children singing while they work.
Hurry and step out the backdoor before the sun dips below the horizon. Watch as the sunset casts a golden hue over the wooded hill. See how it sparkles on the tiny winding creek? Squint against the glare and find the silhouette of children, bending over the water with long sticks, guiding boats through the reeds. The boats are unusual--only raw chunks of wood from a construction site, yet painted with bright splashes of color, and names carefully lettered on the sides.
Pass the swing set now, and let the place of gymnasts and ship captains fall behind us as we cross the big bridge with sturdy railings just right for playing Pooh Sticks. The wide path on your left is still rutted from wagon trains nearing their final Western home, and the perfect launching place for a leap to the bank of the creek below. The rusted cages in the hutch beyond have wisps of long hair from Angora rabbits still fluttering in the breeze.
Watch your step here, on the hill where a business visitor tripped and became “The Funny Guy Who Fell Down the Hill.” Oh! Did you see the flash of color in the pond? The Coi fish Beaker is waiting to show you his tricks. He will drink brine shrimp out of a baby bottle, or suck gently on your finger.
We have no time to linger; dusk is coming quickly. The trail is steep here, as we climb Mossy Way. Beware of Indian maidens rushing down the path on prancing steeds, or FBI agents intent on their prey. Do not trample the tiny plastic lion cub, nestled in a child-dug cave beside the way.
Ah, here we are, to the most delightful place of all! One last steep scramble and we step out on Moonlit Way. Do you feel the childish thrill as you spot the Up-Down Cherry Tree just ahead? Grasp this branch and swing down into the shadows of the path below. Be careful! Do not touch the quicksand, but let the branch swing you right back up here. Whoo hooo! Yes, just like that!
Now come a little higher and sit here in the grass. Soon the moon will peek through the trees and bath us in its light. Stay quiet here. Listen, and let the memories whisper.