I grew up in Tehachapi. Pronounced “tuh hatch a pee.” Anyways, my backyard was the coolest ever. We didn’t have a traditional lawn, or pool, instead, we had “The Creek.”
The Creek was really just a small ravine that went through a bunch of the properties in our area. The actual “flowing” of the creek bed was highly infrequent, but we still called it the creek.
You could get down to the creek several ways:
First, you could take the traditional route that Dad leveled out in hopes that the younger kids would safely make it down.
The second route was the one I always took–running down a short, but incredibly steep hill and subsequently slamming into the chain link fence. Barefoot.
The third option was the sly entrance my brothers had crafted on the far side of the creek. Theirs involved slithering, crawling, and jumping.
They dominated the right side, which was full of pine trees and large oaks. My side was wide open with a huge old Oak looking down on what was the pride and joy of my youth: my fort. My fort had giant rocks that lent themselves perfectly for seating, a kitchen sink, a fireplace, and most importantly, cover from the boys. Who needs a pink playhouse when you have rocks? We could always sneak into the rocks if my brothers were to attack. I loved my fort. My friends loved my fort. And I assume that my younger sister and brothers liked it because when Nate and Joe (my two big brothers) grew out of their fort, the little kids decided to take up residence in my territory. Ha! I knew I had an eye for location.
Besides maybe the kitchen, that Creek holds more childhood memories than any other location. Here in no particular order are some of my favorite memories:
Having wars with my brothers.
Playing Indians. Skip the cowboys.
Playing show business (not the dirty kind) like Show Boat, State Fair, Cover Girl, Singing in the Rain kind of show business.
Having snowball fights.
Riding motorcycles down the creek…sometimes falling off.
Making a Dolly Parton Snow Woman —remember that, Amber? And then destroying her breasts with the motorcycle. Remember that, Joe?
Playing Sardines at night.
Finding my Barbies tied to the chain link fence with arrows through their skulls…on the boys side of the creek.
Sliding down the slick leaves in a leftover summer kiddie pool. So. Much. Fun.
Having dirty feet, tired legs, torn clothes, splinters, bruises, smudged faces and constant constant CONSTANT adventure.
Childhood was amazing in the Creek. It was definitely my Neverland (in a NON Michel Jackson creepy way)–this genius of an imagination that you now enjoy is the love child of that Creek….and good parenting and education and boredom and….ok, the point I would like to stick to is how special that Creek is to me today, and to all of my siblings as well. I could find my way around there blindfolded. As long as the new owners haven’t had the audacity to landscape it!