"Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt."
Once upon a time I was a little girl living in a teeny farming community, population less than 200 people. My childhood memories center around this small town. Hands linked together with neighborhood kids while chanting, Red Rover, Red Rover, send so-in-so right over. Running through yards in the darkening sky during an hour long game of Hide 'n Seek. The loud whistle from a father telling his children it was time to come home. Pie socials at the community hall. Riding bikes to the only gas station in town for Little Debbie treats that cost a single quarter. The list goes on.
I have fond memories when I think back as my time as a young girl; and when I watch my kids play, it sparks a memory and ignites a smile. My hope is they look back at their childhood with a similar fondness. I hope they remember the backyard bonfires and dodgeball with neighbors and walks into town to go to the park and, most especially, I hope they remember the mud puddles in the backyard.
From spring until fall our backyard is periodically transformed into a stream of puddles, one pond leading to the next via a slow moving creek. My children can be found splashing, running, sliding and flinging mud in the beloved puddles. I'll be sad when the day comes that these puddles go untouched by my children, coming and going without much more notice than a glance out the window while doing the dishes. But I think even then I'll still see them out there, the memory as vivid as if it were actually happening in real time, their little bodies dripping with water, faces caked with mud, and loud, raucous laughter filling the void. Perhaps I'll think of their childhood with a similar fondness as I think of my own. For now, though, we're going to enjoy creating the memories. One gigantic mud puddle at a time.