Big Rock Candy Mountain
Childhood, even long ago when I was still a little kid, wasn’t a fantasy, never, neverland of the Big Rock Canady Mountain, a place always fair and bright. Danger’s loitered at corners, in alleyways, in shadows away from street lights, hiding from parents, big brothers and sisters who would chase it away. But danger or no, we were left on our own from the earliest days: a story my mother told from before I can remember was of her putting me out in my stroller on the front porch, or on the small patch of lawn between the side walk and the house, in all weather, for day time naps. My mother followed a belief handed down from mother to mother: first bind the baby tightly in blankets, he would grow strong fighting the bindings; put the baby out of door to sleep in the fresh air and sunlight.
It was in the dark that danger danced, singing, twirling, whirling calling out to kids to little to understand, eager to join in, dance, dance wherever you maybe join in the dance, of the dancing bee. Left on our own we wandered, on our great tiny odysseys, on adventures beyond imaginations, searching out who knows what. Sometimes I wonder how we grew from being too small to know anything to great clumsy oldsters.
In a neighbour’s garage I drank poison once, maybe rat poison, maybe some poison to be used in the garden; this was in the time before Medicare, hospitals were only for bones broken, surgery, things beyond what mothers’ and grandmothers’ couldn’t heal. Poison had to be throw up, puked outta of the belly; my grandmother poured something into me, it went down into my belly and up, retching in the back garden, on hands and knees, crying, screaming, vomiting, puke splashing onto bare arms, tee-shirt, shorts. There was some yelling, some gnashing of teeth and I was tethered to the backyard for a time, but after awhile I was left again to wander.
That was the way it was. We lived and play: danger played with us, sometimes we knew danger was there, sometimes we didn’t. We bared our teeth and banged our shields and dared to go into the great adventure that was life