The Land of My Childhood

As I was reading through all the great blogs I follow, I was captivated by some words on “I Didn’t Have My Glasses On.”

“there is no land like the land of your childhood.”-Michael Powell

I guess there might be millions of Michael Powells, but I wondered if this one weren’t one of my all-time favorite filmmakers. A lot of his films are in black and white, made during WW II. I imagine his most well-known film now is the Red Shoes which is an amazing film, but not my favorite.My favorite is A Canterbury Tale.

Even if those are not the words of “my” Michael Powell, they are magical. They made me think of a Christmas card I drew a long time ago of my brother and me sledding through the forest near our home in Nebraska, a small fragment of the forest that grew along the Missouri River. The woods were our playground, and we spent as much time in them as we could.

Part of “our” forest is still there and I’ve even navigated through it on Google Earth. As Michael Powell said, “There is no land like the land of your childhood.” The only way I have to return there is through art. I know now, as an adult, that part of what makes the land of childhood is that it is a land of the mind as much as a land on this planet, so art is a pretty good mode of travel to reach it from this distant point in time, 60 or so years on…

Here are photos we took in “our forest.” My dad let us take the camera. I found the pictures when I was scanning the China slides a few years ago, and I was very happy to see them there. The first photo is me in the grass that filled a big meadow that is no longer there. The middle photo is my brother on the trail that led deep into the woods. We sledded on our Flexible Flyers through this, weaving our way through the trees along a ravine for a short while. The trail ended in a neighborhood of very good sledding hills. It was one fast ride, thrilling, dangerous and fantastic. Where we ended there were always a lot of other kids on the sledding hill. The hill was reached by skying over a low retaining wall. Our parents never knew what we were doing which was for the best (for us). All we got when we got home was, “Did you have a good time?” Luckily we never lost any teeth or broke anything… That would have raised OTHER questions…

The forest belonged to the Columban Fathers. The photo of me standing was taken from the top of a concrete grotto that was one of their Stations of the Cross. The forest was beyond their monastery. I wanted to share the drawing of “the land of my childhood.” 💚

13 thoughts on “The Land of My Childhood

    • I know that’s not really funny, Fred, but it’s funny in a strange way.

      In my brother’s and my case, they just would have stopped us. It’s better parents do not know. The moms of the boys on bikes never knew what those boys really did on those BMX bikes, but I was there to take them to ER and to say “No.”

  1. Yes!! It was a different time – I roamed all over and had so many adventures! It is a mystery that I never broke anything (Although Dennis Green fell out of the “tree house” and broke his arm)…

  2. The world looks so different through a child’s eyes. So big and full of wonder.

    My family moved from my first home when I was in 3rd grade. In my twenties, wanting to revive my childhood memories, I drove through that single street, cul-de-sac neighborhood. I was shocked how small everything was – our house, the “big hill” we raced our bikes down, the “big woods” behind our house, even the neighborhood itself. I wish I’d left the scene entirely in my memory.

    I think your drawing is the perfect way to revisit what was for you and your brother a treasured place and time.

    • The childhood world is immense — and filled with possibilities and great adventures and they really are great adventures because they’re things we never did before. That was one of the things I loved most — and miss most — about the kids who used to live up the alley. They would run along their fence racing the cars that went by and for them, with their short legs and sense of wonderment, it was a pretty decent distance, but it was just a back yard.

      I think one of the things I like about dogs is that. It’s all new, it’s all wonderful, it’s all an adventure.

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