Monday, October 26, 2009

Our Backyard

This is the view of the back of my childhood home. My father was the first to purchase property in that strip of land on Dughill Rd. He bought three parcels and eventually sold the two others to our adjoining neighbors to build houses on. At that time, we all went to the same American Baptist Church. The parsonage of the church was built two parcels from us. After a few years, the Lord showed my parents that this church did not honor the Lord and they moved on when I was just a tyke.

The backyard of my home afforded all the entertainment of my youth. It is a 3/4 acre lot and we had plenty of room in the back to play soccer, Ghost in the Graveyard, archery, and many other great games. The back left wall served as both a soccer kicking wall and a baseball backstop. I remember one day that we found some toads and so from that baseball backstop we pitched them into the air and sent them screaming with one swing of the bat the 60 or so feet to the creek.

When I was younger, each side of the yard had 2 parallel trees that served as goals for either soccer or football. My brother and Pastor's son Craig would come over and shoot archery in the yard. They would set up hay bails and shoot their compound bows. One day, after watching the variety show "That's Incredible", my brother and Craig thought the could mimic the show with some trick shooting. Ray would lay down in front of the hay bail and Craig would shoot the target only inches above him. They also got the bright idea that they could shoot arrows at each other and catch them. This lasted only a few shots as they almost killed each other. Another archery idea they had came from the Dukes of Hazard. They poured the bb's out of 12 gauge shotgun shells and then placed the shell upside down on the end of their arrow. All that was left was the primer and powder wad. They then shot the arrow at a huge rock we used to have at the edge of the creek. When the arrow hit, it made a tremendous BANG and shot right back at them. They decided that this too could kill them, so they stopped.

The focal point of the backyard was definitely the high rope swing tied from a 40 foot limb of the Sycamore tree. We used that swing for so many childhood games. It always served as "base" during tag. We used it so much that it always had a 4 or 5 foot dirt bare place underneath of it. My dad changed the rope to that swing every few years. It was a neighborhood event when it happened. Dad had devised a method of getting the rope that high by tying it first to a ball-peened hammer. He would through the hammer over the limb, and then my a series of ingenious throws tie the two ropes at just the right distance to come down and be attached to the seat. For my sister's wedding in our backyard, Dad purchased special white rope that was beautiful. He would drill two holes of course for the seat and tie a knot below the board. A very important step was melting the ends of the rope so it would not fray over time. Mom would not have liked that look at all.

A fun thing we like to do with that swing was sit someone on it and then twist up the 40 feet of rope. They would rise, rise, rise as we twisted them and then spin with furious speed as they unwound. If you were in the seat, you could get more speed by simply leaning forward. When the ride finished, the rider would hop off and stagger around drunkenly. It was great fun. I never remember anyone throwing up from the ride, but I sure remember many who could not walk for several minutes.

My father has always been meticulous about his lawn in that yard. Originally, when we built the house, my parents raked the yard for rocks for several months before seeding it. They also "rolled" the yard several times a year with a large water-filled roller that we had for many years. My father religiously fertilizes, and today that lawn is softer than most carpets with zero weeds. It is great to visit and romp around with the grandchildren or simply lay on and look up at the sky through the large boughs of the Sycamore tree.

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