Growing up a good half mile from our nearest neighbors other than Grandparents, my closest childhood friends were my brothers and sisters. Next in line were the various families of cousins, who visited often from out of town since Grandma and Grandpa lived right next door. Of course we had chores and school and piano lessons, but we had plenty of time to play together too, with a whole big dairy farm full of fields and trees, gardens, dirt, barns and sheds to play in.
Daddy built a huge tire swing set and set of tricky bars out by the barn and a very cute playhouse in the front yard. We used these areas to play in often, but it was much more fun to turn any currently unoccupied shed or barn or hayloft or even willow tree into our play house or our school or our office. We carried dress ups and blankets and dolls and dishes to wherever the play house of the day was. We rode bicycles, we built towns in the dirt under the trees, Or, little tables, chairs, desks, papers, pencils, books, chalk boards and all of the accessories needed for whatever the game of the day happened to be.
In the winter time we built the typical snowmen and snow caves. We could entertain ourselves for entire afternoons by stomping trails into the snow and playing fox and geese or building our mansions in the snow. We slid down the huge piles of snow pushed to the side of the driveways by the tractors. Sometimes we were even known to go sledding off of the roof of the chicken coop into the drifts below in Grandpa's yard. Better sledding was had by tying the sleds or the big long homemade toboggan behind the horse drawn sleigh filled with hay for feeding the cows, but the best sledding of all was when we would load all of the sleds up in the truck and head for the west hills. Our very favorite home movie is one of our dear Mother hitting a big bump in the hill and flying off the toboggan. We loved to watch the action forwards and backwards, then forwards and backwards again.
Of course I did develop some very good friendships once I started school in town and am grateful for the good times I had over the years with these friends at school and other church and community activities. Hopscotch. kick soccer, baseball games at recess. Sleepovers, movies, football games, bowling and swimming and and dances. Long talks during lunch and on the phone after school. Giggling over cute boys and each others crushes and heartbreaks. How does anyone survive the pre-teen and teenage years without such friendships?
Both class and family reunions are priceless these many years later. We all know one another. We understand each other. We share the same background and the same memories. Lifelong friendships are true treasures.