Sunday, February 3, 2013

The Yellow Bucket

As I mentioned a few posts ago, I'm currently (current like a trickling stream, not like the roaring Mississippi or anything) reading "The Last Child in the Woods" by Richard Louv.  It's all pretty interesting, and the last chapter I read talked about kids playing with everyday objects outdoors, and how that makes some kind of important connection between nature and man-made things.  Or something silly.

Only I don't really think it's silliness, because as I read his statement, I looked up and thought, "Huh.  We did that.  It's the yellow bucket to a T!"

What's the yellow bucket?  Have I blogged about this before?  I don't think so.  It's a small plastic receptacle that helped in the formation of my childhood (that's mostly true).  I'm currently in the process of writing an overly-romanticized version of only the most interesting parts of my childhood (four whole pages so far!).  I even wrote about the yellow bucket (it's possible some of you have read this before):


One of our favorite and most coveted tools for playing outside was the yellow bucket.  The yellow bucket was often left outside, to obtain the thing that would eventually destroy it—brittleness from the sun’s rays.  But we knew where it was, where to find it when we needed it.  It originally held beads that we used to fashion into horrible necklaces.  But in later years it served as a vat for stirring up mud, or a stew pot for brewing magical concoctions that we would serve to crashed airplane pilots or lost explorers.  Occasionally we would wash it out, ban our brother from the room, and use the bucket to hold doll clothes.  My brother wasn’t allowed to play dolls.  But after one session of isolated jungle Indians, the bucket was left in some arboreal hollow and forgotten.  It didn’t truly bother us—times changed, we were blessed with a shiny red bowl that served for our concocting purposes (mud pies were passé).  But occasionally we would pause briefly in those hot summer afternoons when time dragged on and nothing was on TV.  One of us would turn to another, or just stare at the straining ceiling fan, and wonder aloud, “What ever happened to the yellow bucket?”

This Jubaea I'm posing by was the shelter under which I nursed that crashed pilot back to health. Relevance accomplished.
Anyway, it occurred to me that a lot of the things that Richard Louv talks about in his book apply to me and the way I perceive my childhood.  Maybe that's why I'm reading the book.  Maybe that's why I want those things for my future children.

Either way, those parts of my childhood that were so important have become symbols of the formation of myself, and those are symbols I will never forget: the star tree, the yellow bucket, table rock, Edgar's bike path.  I guess I just didn't realize that other people had things like the star tree and the yellow bucket, and that those things are just as important to them.

So what is your star tree?  What is your table rock and your yellow bucket?  What, when you look back, do you remember with a half-smile and a wonder?

PS, I write nostalgically about home a lot.  Like here and here.


Jared and Megan said...

Oh table rock! Honestly I don't know if I remember the yellow bucket... When I think of things like that I think of Cornelius, that one egg-shaped rock, and the stick that was the only thing left from a child-sized rake which I often used as a spear. I like when you write about your/our childhood. I want the same things for my kids and the time is swiftly passing. My kids interact with other children their age a lot more than we did, but I do often wish they had some wilderness to explore. I need to take them for picnics more often and let them explore the woods and the shallow river as I have a handful of times now. I should make a goal to do it several times this summer, but I'm guessing it will be difficult with a newborn. :P

LP said...

I love these recollections of yours, Shannon.

Megan, we can hope the weather is cooperative while you're here, and the kids can explore. I'll even get them a yellow bucket.