Childhood Explorations

An excerpt from Earth Psalms, available October 4:

When I was a girl, my family traveled, camped, and explored God’s creation. I tried to do the same with my children. It’s in my DNA, so the idea of writing earth psalms as worship to the Lord sprang from my heart. Once I started, I couldn’t help but praise Him for the diversity and beauty of His handiwork.

A family vacation with both grandmothers
A family vacation with both grandmothers

My family lived “in the sticks” when I was growing up. Locals dubbed our neighborhood “chicken alley” because of the number of chicken farms it once boasted. They were gone by the time Mom and Dad moved us onto the three-acre plot of land where they built our home. There was only one small chicken farm left, just down the street. Mom sent me for fresh eggs every week.

We were far enough from town that I wasn’t able to play with my townie friends. My brother and I had to invent our fun. Hiking was one of my favorite activities, and we had favorite places we explored. My brother discovered “Twin Lakes,” about a mile from our house. Actually, it was two large watering holes for cattle, one surrounded by aromatic eucalyptus and the other in the wide-open spaces. I never swam in either pond. Who knew how deep the eucalyptus pond went or what monsters lurked beneath the surface? And the other side took careful maneuvering to avoid cattle and what cattle tend to drop.

There was another pond closer to home and just up the road in the backyard of a neighbor who didn’t mind kids toting coffee cans for hunting tadpoles.

Another favorite place was the creek below Castlewood Country Club. We would climb up into the framework of the bridge and hunt for bats. I brought a few of those interesting creatures home in a shoe box, much to my mother’s horror. “They carry rabies!” We watched our mini Draculas flap away into the starry night, on their return flight to the steel bridge girders before sunup.

I remember exploring another creek further around the valley road with a friend. We thought we’d discovered a body and ran home to report to my dad, a county sheriff. He took us back to the site and had us wait in the car while he investigated. It turned out it was a man’s coat snagged on a large rock.

Even way back then, I had a vivid imagination.

What places did you explore in your childhood? What do the unique characteristics about those memories tell you about God?