Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The Woods

What with yesterday being a holiday (thank you Mr. Columbus,) we wanted somewhere cheap to take the kids that wouldn't involve 1) apple picking 2) hayrides 3) sales at the malls.

What better place than "the woods?"

Growing up as I did opposite a park, I still consider myself a lucky child. I would walk the ten paces down our driveway, cross the street, and be five paces from a tennis court (obviously, as this was North London, England, the court was only actually usable for two weeks a year. Most of the time it was too wet and the balls would get wrecked.) and about 50 paces from a playground.

Between the ages of about five and seven, the playground was old school. There was no fence to keep the dogs out. The legendary "witch's hat" obstacle would break at least one arm per summer, and the clearance on the roundabout was just enough to see a child's ankle wedged underneath. Once safety became an issue, the fence went up (keeping out not just the dogs, but the dog's... business) the rubber safety flooring was installed, the witch's hat was burned at the stake, and the roundabout replaced by one that looked more like a spider web than a deathtrap on a spindle.

This isn't to say that once the playground was made safe to play, I got bored with it. I would still now put "swinging" (as in, on a swing) in my "top five things I enjoy" list. But by the time I was 10, the woods was the place to go.

We would walk there, which was an adventure in itself. I was never sure if the route we took was a public footpath or not. I seem to remember walking through fields alongside horses, and sneaking over fences, but also meeting plenty of people doing the same thing. The meeting point was always the same place - the V Tree... at least, that's what our parents thought it was called. We all called it the vagina tree because it looked a bit like one. Thinking back, it was a stretch, but we were 10.

The rest of the day was spent doing one of two things: walking around or running and hiding. Certainly a big chunk of the woods was private property, belonging probably to a hooty, snooty hotel where Gilbert and Sullivan lived or something. We only snuck through the wire once or twice because we stumbled upon a real tire swing - a tire suspended on rope from a huge branch. Very dangerous, very fun.

The woods we went to yesterday in Mahwah were similar to my childhood venue of Old Redding in Harrow, but with less people around (none). The kids had fun, and we didn't spend a dime. Plus I got a nostaglic flashback. All in all: good.

1 comment:

Sam said...

I so remember Old Redding!!!