Saturday, March 10, 2012

GAMES FOR LATE AFTERNOON

"I love this time of day," said Ben. We've been sitting outside in the garden as the sun comes down. It isn't really coming down, though. You only know that it will because it always does. But four o clock actually feels like the greatest point of the afternoon. The ground has heated up as much as it's going to, only the air is cooler.

Ben walked out to the end of the yard and took a few photographs with his cell phone ~the daffodils and a few blossoms on the pear tree. It's only early March, but it already feels like the kind of warm day I loved best as a child. We'd be playing on the grass, and wouldn't want the game to end. Tea time. The adults may have been gardening on a Saturday afternoon, and my brother sister and I were playing with our neighbors the Hitchcocks.

Kim and Nicola Hitchcock were our constant companions. There was a little gate in the fence between our properties. Our back yard was an uninspired triangular plot of grass with a cherry tree in the middle, but at the end was the willow tree, and that was where the gate in the fence led to the Hitchcock's garden. They had an orchard of plum trees and beyond it a mossy flight of steps leading to the terrace. There was a swing seat up there and a sandbox, a great place to play on Saturday morning. We hung from the frame of the swing seat, doing acrobatics. Our garden came into its own in the late afternoon. We had a wendy house, and a slope of grass to roll down.

"And what else did you play?"Ben asked me.

"Oh," I said. "We played May I and Letters in Your Name."

"And what was that?"

"When someone called out letters, and if you had them in your name you stepped forward the same number of letters as you had in your name. I loved when they called letter A."

We laughed. "Did you play Red Rover?" he asked.

"No. What's that?"

"Too rough for you," he said, explaining it involved linking arms and trying to break through another line of kids opposite. "No," said Ben, "You only played games where you all lined up, and stepped forward politely when allowed."

I laughed. "No! That's not true. We also played hopscotch."

"Wow. Great times."

"And we skipped rope. But we never had the kind with handles," I explained. "A great day for us would be when our mother bought a washing line and cut it into skipping ropes~"

"Were you aware of the kinds of jump ropes with handles?" Ben asked.

"Sure," I said. "But that was out of our league!"

"Did you have a park?"

"Of course. There was a park on Oak Hill, and also a bird sanctuary."

"Maybe we should revive hopscotch," Ben reflected. "We could compete seriously. Train for it. I can put it up as my Facebook status."

The sun is coming down. I want to take a photograph of Ben. Last night I did a quick study sculpture of him, in about an hour, but he didn't like it. "Look," I said. "Isn't that a nice picture?"

"Well, it's better than the sculpture."

"I think I'm going to put this on my blog," I said.

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