7 Mar 2015

Shared history


I know I wrote about a similar topic last winter, about the sacred spaces of childhood.
This time though I am thinking more about a shared history as well as our connection to the land.


Our house was at the edge of the city, a newish part of an old suburb, only the third house in the street.
 Opposite our house was The Bush, typical Tasmanian bushland, a little scrubby  and not so very lush, home to lots of wild flowers and various grasses and native cranberries  and cherries that we liked to chew on  or eat as the seasons passed. 
Also home to the swings and slide and tracks made by children that lead to the best places for this or that especially the best place to find the native violets that were mum's favourite.
This place held hours and hours of play.

Behind our house was The Back Paddock, home to the run off from the septic tank which made for very lush grass, there were also a few sheep 
and the occasional horse owned by the much feared Mr Stephenson.
 Here the boys made forts and tree houses and cricket pitches and even a golf course.

Us girls preferred not to build but we had special places.
 The taddie pond ( tadpole pond) and the thicket of bushes beside it where we had a little house amongst the branches and where most definitely fairies and pixies lived.
 The wattle trees that we climbed and ate the sap and sat on the low bendy branches pretending we were riding horses and the thickets of blackberries where we gorged ourselves when the berries were soft and black and the juices ran down our chins.

We collected mushrooms in autumn and helped a little with the bonfire building in May but that seemed to be a contest between the various boys in the street to see who could build the biggest and there was a certain amount of  sabotage and stealing of branches that went on. 
Us girls, me, my little sister, the girl from over the road, the girl from up the street, the girl from even further up the street, we weren't so interested in the boys' competition.

Kate's bike

 There was also the area further over the back, through the wire fence where no matter how hard you tried you couldn't see any houses, where we found the big flat stones buried and at the same level as the grass, carpeted in some places with small patches of moss that were the carpets of the fairies, there were little nooks among the rocks, fairy houses of course.
 Such a dreamy place, we held a little fearfulness in our hearts because we were so far from home and because we believed if we went just a little further there was a cliff 
and we would fall and be lost forever.

 The fearfulness made this place so much more magical and it also seemed to belong just to us as it held no magic or enticement to the boys ( my older brother, cousin and the rest), nothing to conquer, build or turn into a sports field.
 Here we made little grass beds for the fairies, we swept the moss carpet 
and made blankets from leaves. 
We made fairy pencils from the she oak spikes and imagined a fairy school. 

This was the land of our childhood, my sister and me, much different it seems from my brother's childhood land though it was the same place. 
My sister and I felt comfortable, happy and loved in our home, our garden and the bushlands around our home, our shared history that we hold deep inside.

That's how it goes you know, when you experience the land totally, when you lie on it, roll on it, climb the trees, know the flowers, follow the seasons, know what happens when and where, when it becomes your territory it also becomes a part of you and even though the back paddock is now covered in houses and sensible paths have been built in the bushland and safe play equipment has replaced our swings and slide, we still hold it the way it was when we were young.
We hold that forever in our hearts, it's ours.
That's actually pretty good I think.
Makes me happy.

( the pictures in the post are not from my childhood home, 
they are from the house that we live in now)



  1. I know you and I are the same age and though we live on opposite sides of the world, this reminds me so much of my own childhood. Building fairy houses in the roots of giant trees, playing for hours in the creek, wild strawberries and apples in the woods...I wish more children could have those kinds of memories.

  2. Me too. I grew up in the late 50's and early 60's in rural New York State. In the summer, my mother expected us to play outside from dawn to dusk, and we did. It was magic. My favorite memory? I had a special tree I climbed with my favorite books. There was a Y shaped branch I could stretch out on, lie back and read all afternoon way up above everyone else. When the wind blew, the branch swayed with it - I felt like I was one with nature. Lovely lovely memory.

  3. Such a lovely story you told. I almost felt myself there playing with you girls, and the fairies of couse. Childhood play is so very different these days for most children. Makes me sad in a way. Blessings

  4. Dear Jenny Wren, I just love your blog - it has a peaceful friendly feel and in this crazy world, it is a delight to read. Thank you, Heather from SA.

  5. Hi Jenny! I love the way you honor the memory of simpler times. Have you read Last Child in the Woods? You might not want to because it's sad. It talks about how so much is lost now that parents feel led to be so protective.


Thanks so much for taking the time to chat. I don't always have time to reply but I do read every message you leave.