Various times between 2000-2013
I spent the majority of my life in the Michigan suburbs, in a typical neighborhood which was surrounded on two sides by forest. Growing up there was fun, and I have several memories of the adventures my brothers and I had. These are a few of them.
There was this pond on the west side of the neighborhood, across the dirt road that ran along the houses on the neighborhood's border. The pond was almost hidden in tall, lumpy grass, behind an old barn and overgrown tennis courts that, long ago, had been someone's home/farm (who knows?). My dad used to take us fishing there, and if it were the right time of the year, we'd catch bass or northern pike. We enjoyed exploring the barn, always hoping to secretly find something valuable but never able to. We did this with the tennis courts as well, but the most we ever found was broken glass or beer bottles from whoever else had visited.
On another side of the neighborhood there were trails through the woods that led to various places. One led to a cherry tree way out on the border of a state park, and we would often go there during the summer to see if the cherries were ripe. Another trail led to a different park which, for most of the time I lived there, was merely a large sledding hill with a baseball field at the bottom. Sledding down that hill was the best, and depending on where you started on the top, you could end up going really fast. Although the trails were mostly my brothers' source of adventure, I enjoyed them as well and was really grateful to have had such an exciting place to explore just a few streets away.
Psycho squirrel. The infamous. We could hear him in the trees when we went out into the garden, and one time I spotted him on the roof, watching me. He would scamper away when we came near and start making this sound that was a cross between a chuckle, chatter, and growl. He was obviously angry—maybe he/she had a nest around somewhere?—but I had never heard a squirrel make noises like that before.
When we were really little, my brothers and I liked to make 'forts.' Since half of our deck was raised high enough so that we could crawl underneath, we'd go under and move around the rocks and bricks and wood to create beds or places to store things. The funny thing was, while we worked hard to make the forts, we were never able to enjoy them once we finished. It was the process that was the fun part, so we were constantly changing things and getting new ideas, moving our fort's location around the yard. But since we had so few trees and we were on the corner of the street, there were no other places to make a fort where we'd be hidden, so we always ended up back at the deck anyways.
One of my all-time best memories from back home was the pool. For several summers we would set up this 2 foot-high, inflatable pool in the backyard. No place in our yard was completely flat, so the pool was never level, but we could fill the deep end up to roughly 8 inches of water. And that was enough. My one brother and I would spend hours in the pool, playing any one of our various games. But the best one was called Storm At Sea. It had a narrative… We would sit in the shallow end of the pool and pretend to be steering a ship. We'd make small talk and somehow casually mention that a small storm was supposed to be brewing later on. Then suddenly, one of us would say, "What's that sound?" After quickly looking at each other in horror, we would throw ourselves into the deeper water and pretend to drown, thrashing and splashing as much as we could. Sometimes one of us would grab the side of the pool—the land—and try to help the other up onto it. But we would always end up back in the water, and eventually we would wash up on an island, only to set sail once more and repeat the entire process. I absolutely loved playing this game, and I hope I never forget about it.