Along for the ride:

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Fortress, Stage Coach or Pirate Ship?

Every day, on my walk, I pass a vacant lot where a small untamed tree supports a tire swing. It has always struck me as a bit lonely and not very exciting. A few days ago a cardboard box appeared as well. Suddenly this is a magical place. I see the possibilities; fortress, stage coach or pirate ship. I know that the young spirit who has furnished this dream world is more likely into space ships or something more current from a cartoon or movie that I am too grown-up to understand. No matter. I smile as I round the corner and see that the submarine/train/time travel machine has moved since the day before. I can feel the residual energy of an imagination at
work. I can hear the echoes of play.


  1. I once had the world's fastest race car. Red wagon, cardboard box and old pillow from my grannys porch.

  2. my lord!.. kid's in America still play!?... (joking)... I love stuff like this.. me and my friends once made a whole city out of a disgarded silage cover (uber sized black bin liner).. we tied it to a load of trees and it spread for miles (a large area). We hollowed out furniture from the banks and roots, stole most of their mother's kitchen equipment... It lasted for the whole summer holidays.. until the wind came... I miss being a kid!

  3. I remember our son standing on a brick with a garden cane in his hands shouting 'I'm windsurfing' Bless him.

  4. Good eyesight, English Rider! And even better imagination!

    One of my good memories of my father was the wooden box with holes cut out for windows that he put in the back of our HML-style apartment in Tulsa, OK in 1955. I gained my distaste for cigarettes there!

  5. We used to love big appliance boxes! They were a rare, but treasured gift to the imagination. Quite often, they went from fortress to sled down the hill in their "crushed" state, but I can't remember ever having one go to an unappreciated end around here.

  6. Lady Shinola; I agree a race car must be red
    Watercats: I think this Dream-Team are two little brothers who live further down the road. They ride tricycles and play with off-cut pieces of wood from their Daddy's fix-it projects. Their Mum is always there to keep an eye on them. They got very excited upon seeing my black and white "Cows," (dogs). You are correct that this is an unusually simple approach to childhood for this area. Sigh. Your City sounds memorable.
    Rosie: Great story. You will always have that image to pull out and revisit. A guaranteed smile whenever you call upon it. Does your son remember too?
    Fr'amie: A wooden box must have felt very private and special.
    Jean: Letting my daughter and her friends slide down the hill with a flattened box is how we foreigners learned about poison oak. Other than that it was great fun. A box is so much more than a box.

  7. There are possibly many young adventurers exploring and traveling in that vacant lot, not so vacant these days. My kids made so many different things out of cardboard boxes. And some of them were elaborately decorated as well. It makes me smile to read this post, to reminisce and to wish the little ones in your area well.

  8. And may we all squeeze into that box, set the tire swinging, and head for the stars... wouldn't it be so wonderful just once in our outrageously short existences to be able to get off this planet, and go travel the universe for a while, visit some other worlds where life may have taken on other forms; perhaps without violence, without guns, without drugs, without booze, without hatred, without nationalist idiocy, without humans bent on destroying the only planet we have, without gangs, without... etc ad nauseum.

    I know, I'm a dreamer... but I like the idea of a box allowing travel through the space-time continuum...

  9. TechnoBabe, it does seem as though this speaks to the Peter Pan in all of us.
    Owen, time travel has been achieved here, If you read the comments, everyone went back to a special place in time.I have enjoyed the sharing of memories.

  10. It has been said by greater minds than mine that as a child we are fascinated and endlessly stimulated by everything - even the underside of a table can be fascinating to a child's mind

    So it's great to hear that kids still use that imagination and that even as adults we can rediscover that innocence if we just try

  11. Pixie, If we allow ourselves to see things from others' points of view we increase our enjoyment of our world. I often see trees that call out to be climbed. Even though I won't be climbing them, I can imagine my past climbs and know that other kids will be climbing there. I designed a fireplace wall in a huge house with a secret room behind the bookshelf, in what would otherwise have been dead space. The client and her children were totally on board.I still get a kick out of knowing that's there.

  12. Can't resist adding this:

    Pirate Story
    by Robert Louis Stevenson

    Three of us afloat in the meadow by the swing,
    Three of us abroad in the basket on the lea.
    Winds are in the air, they are blowing in the spring,
    And waves are on the meadow like the waves there are at sea.

    Where shall we adventure, to-day that we're afloat,
    Shall it be to Africa, a-steering of the boat,
    To Providence, or Babylon or off to Malabar?

    Hi! but here's a squadron a-rowing on the sea--
    Cattle on the meadow a-charging with a roar!
    Quick, and we'll escape them, they're as mad as they can be,
    The wicket is the harbour and the garden is the shore.

  13. Jean, thanks. I love RL Stevenson. I didn't know this one. I remember well The Land of Counterpane and From a Railway Carriage. Did you see Rosie's comment about her son windsurfing?

  14. Loved all the comments.

    I have a book of Child's Garden of Verses poems set to music. I sang several at a concert and this was one of them.

    Found it on line along with all the other poems from the collection.

  15. thanks for that post - it just reminded me of my days of building forts.

    Kids still enjoy a good cardboard box.

  16. Lisleman, Hi, thanks for stopping by. The box was still there this morning but we are supposed to get some serious rain tonight. I will se what tomorrow brings in the realm of magical cardboard boxes.