Sunday, April 3, 2011


The first eight years of my life I claimed two back yards. The one behind our house and the one behind the vacant house next to ours. I don't know how big they were exactly--I grew up in a big-college small-town in Illinois, so maybe combined between a half acre to an acre. Our garage and a section of fence separated the yards only about half of the way, creating labyrinthine subsections. To my little self, the whole thing made up a huge world that could be anything I wanted it to be.

I realize lots of kids don't get the traditional "back yard" experience. But kids will make what they want out of just about any environment, I believe. Where their imagination plays out shapes them even as they shape their surroundings with the overlay of their inner world.

In the summer, I made my yards prairies and forests; in the winter, tundras and glaciers. More often than not, I was a covered-wagon pioneer. Blazing west, "Oregon or Bust," building [imaginary] shelters from wood and sod. I didn't grow up with siblings my age, so I often created elaborate storylines in which every detail worked exactly as I wanted it to because I was in complete control. Maybe that's why I'm a writer. Or maybe I was already a writer back then.

What were your backyard, or equivalent, worlds like? If you didn't have the traditional back yard, how did your imagination play out?


  1. I spent most of my time in the "backyard" of the cart paths around the lake and in the woods here in PTC. I wandered barefoot most of the summer and climbed trees to read... and walked my dog... often all in the same afternoon.

  2. Sounds marvelous, Nicole. You had a whole town as your back yard!