There was a walnut orchard behind my house when I was a kid. It was paradise for the kids on our block. I remember climbing and playing in the tree branches... and in the spring running around in the endless mustard grass that turned the orchard into a yellow maze of fun for all of us.
We would play hide and seek in the tall grass and I remember
lying very still, looking up at the blue sky, though yellow flowers and
green stems, hoping that no one would find me... that my hiding
place would be safe from whoever was IT. I remember breathing in the
mustard fragrance... thick, strong and wild. Sometimes I would be found
and tagged... "You're it." someone would yell and then I would have to
hunt for the other's hiding in their own 'safe places'. It was a
wonderful game we played. An innocent game that keeps us busy for hours
but close to home. Then toward dinner... one by one... we would here our
parents call us in. The days were long and we were young. It was a good
place to grow up.
The orchard became houses and they built a
school at the end of the street called Strandwood. The town became
incorporated, roads widened, Grayson Creek became concrete and
controlled so it wouldn't flood every Winter. We all grew up.
named a park after my best friend's grandfather and a lot of us moved
away. The last farm became a mall, The drugstore at Pleasant Hill and
Gregory La. that my dad worked at as an extra job, became a produce
market and the barber shop disappeared. The town is different but the
same. The roads have the same names, but there's a downtown now with
theaters, Peet's and all the stores that you can imagine.
I love the little town I remember with its drive-in movie and muddy creeks... with walnut orchards and miles of Mustard grass.
I have photos of smiling faces that are faded with age now, but I know
that I had the best of times there... where the backyard led to an
orchard though a gate my dad built, just for us. I played all day with
my friends... playing hide and seek until dark...and life was good.