In the hairdressers recently I was reading a lovely magazine called Dumbo Feather. I had never heard of it before but it has articles about amazing people. There was another magazine there of the same shape and size called Frankie which
dealt with art and design and all sorts of things. They are printed on recycled paper. They look different, they feel different and are a pleasure to hold and read. The first article I read, written by Charlie Hoehn, started off like this:
"Dr Seuss describes adults as 'obsolete children'. Have you ever witnessed a little kid working out on a treadmill? Meeting up with a friend to have a chat over coffee? Attending a networking conference to hand out their business cards? Hell
no. That stuff's boring. Kids don't run to get in shape; they run to feel the grass beneath their feet and the wind on their face. Kids don't chat over coffee; they pretend and make jokes and explore the outdoors. Kids don't
network; they bond while playing. There is no ego. There is no guilt. There is no past to regret and no future to worry about. They just play."
I remember the freedom I had as a child and have to confess that it amazes
me to see the different world we live in. Even my children had freedom to roam around and do things children do. It was a small country town and everyone knew everyone. I do remember my husband coming home one day saying that one of
the local police had pulled him up to tell him that Andrew had been riding his bike along the road with no hands. His father told me he said "That's a pretty normal thing for a kid to do." The Constable replied "Not while reading a book it's not!!!"
My children walked to school or rode a bike. As Jo was in final years at school it wasn't so cool to ride a bike so she and a couple of girlfriends walked. It was rare that I would drive them. I walked to work myself but that was only
a couple of blocks. In primary school both children walked home to their grandmother's place for lunch and then back again. Not many people drove their children to school then and that was just a generation ago. Now, even in that small
town, most of the children are driven to school, probably for fear of bullying.
Just one generation removed from that again, I rode a horse to school or a bike or walked. There were other children who lived across the river from me and they walked
so I occasionally walked with them. Mostly I rode a horse because I loved horses and that was my favourite mode of travel. In the 18 months I went to the school at Carcoar there were three different horses I rode, Tibby, a cunning old girl which
my two sisters had learned to ride on and which they rode to school at Garland, Mimmy, a pretty little taffy which was a sweetie to ride and then there was Blossom, a great big chestnut half-draught horse which, when you got her going, cantered along like
a big old rocking chair. I have no idea why there were three different horses for me to ride, probably whichever was the easiest to catch on the day!!
There was a small paddock next to the school designated for the horses of pupils who had to
ride to school. It would have been quite well used in former times I guess but while I was there, my horse was the only one who ever had the use of it. It was quite a treat for them as there was always plenty of grass and water as well. I
used to have to climb on the gatepost to get on Blossom as she was a big tall girl. She had a lovely nature though and I thought I was Christmas being up so high and more or less in control. We don't have any fear when we are kids. My sister,
Joy, tried to put her in our sulky once and she kicked the front out of it so she was a girl who knew what she liked and didn't like!!!
The kids from across the river and myself only had a mile to get to school but there was another family who lived
on the western side of the town who walked three miles to school each day. When I think of it, the eldest boy was in my class and he might have been a year older than myself and that would make him nine which meant his two younger sisters would have
been probably seven and five or at the most, six. It is amazing now, even to me, to think of these very young children walking in and out to school each day. None of us who lived out of town were expected to come in to school on really cold or
very wet days in the winter.
One particularly cold winter day (for which Carcoar was renowned at the time - don't know what the weather is like these days) I had ridden into town the night before or perhaps I was just staying there after a day at school.
We had friends who lived opposite the school and, feeling virtuous and wanting to get to school early and do my best to learn everything I could, I had stayed with them for the night. (I still remember that feeling, shortlived as it was, because, in
all my life, it was the one and only time I felt like that. My usual attitude to school was pretty cavalier. School was there to be endured.) I am truly amazed at the dedication of some of my grandchildren towards their schooling. They
are such achievers. I am so proud of them.
However, this cold winter morning in Carcoar dawned late, as it does when the sun can't get through the cloud and the darkness is reluctant to give up its hold on the day. There was sleet and the
promise of snow to come. I took this in with glee, saddled my pony and rode home as quickly as I could. Dad was furious but could hardly send me back in such weather. Funnily enough, it was one of the loveliest days of my life. It snuggles
in my memory. A place I can go back to when I need, as sometimes you do on bitter cold days. Reading in front of a fire is one of the great pleasures in life and I was an avid reader then, as now. Can't remember a time when I couldn't read.
Joy was there and Dad and we had hot cocoa and toast and Dad made some little figurines for me out of pieces of wood he had. It was such a comfortable day, warm and treasured forever.
I could stand up under the mantelpiece over that
fire. I occasionally go back and look at that little house now and am amazed at how it shrank. It was such a big house then. The memories of children, dictated by their size.