Stories From my Childhood
Dear fierce ones,
I was born in October of 1972. My parents lived (at that time) in a tiny little town in the Kootenay region of southeastern British Columbia, Canada. A picturesque and lovely little town that I have no memory of because my parents moved away when I was just a year old.
Some descriptive terms regarding my parents are Nomads. Hippies. Jesus Freaks. Missionaries. Artists. Musicians. Entrepreneurs. Adventurers.
My life growing up was not exactly average.
My earliest memories revolve around a certain Bible School called Living Faith located in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies. (It still exists)
We arrived at the Bible school when I was 4 years old. We moved into Cabin # 7. This cabin had 2 bedrooms with a kitchen, living room, and a bathroom. It was cozy and my brother and I played together constantly. Behind the cabin was a little bubbling creek. It was lovely.
I remember my parents pouring a cement sidewalk and my brother and I put our hands in the cement. We made permanent handprints and a sunshine smiley face on the sidewalk.
My parents decided to move to the Bible school after they fell head over heels in love with Jesus and abandoned their previous lives to follow him.
They were PASSIONATE.
For 2 years, my parents studied and prayed and communed with others who were just as crazy about Jesus as they were. We went to church and Bible studies constantly. My earliest memories revolve around this place. I remember...
A few things were different in the 70's.
Parental supervision wasn't quite the same in those days. Us kids had a lot of free time even at 3 and 4 years old. (we were really great kids) but I do remember one incident that was scary.
My brother and I were home alone and he decided he needed some raisins. The raisins were up in a tall cupboard. (Already, we were pretty self-sufficient and good at problem-solving) Chad pulled up a chair and climbed onto the counter. The raisins had been opened and were now closed in a plastic bag tightly tied into a knot. Chad couldn't open it so he grabbed a sharp paring knife and proceeded to cut through the knot. Unfortunately, he was cutting through the knot with the knife blade facing up rather than down. Suddenly, the knife cut through the plastic and he drove the knife right into his own forehead.
Blood was everywhere.
I remember running back and forth to the bathroom grabbing toilet paper and dabbing at the blood gushing from my brother's forehead, saying "it's okay Chad, it's okay" The entire kitchen floor was covered in crumpled blood-soaked toilet paper.
I vaguely remember when my Mom got home. She kept saying "Oh my...what happened here?" She was shaking her head and trying to understand why her entire kitchen floor was covered in toilet paper and blood. Us kids were fine by then, the bleeding had stopped and we explained what happened. My brother still has a tiny scar on his forehead. We laugh about it now.
I loved those years of my early childhood. I had so much freedom.
Eventually, my parents bought an acreage right next to the Bible school. Our farm was 18 acres of pristine wilderness. The property was right next to the Clearwater River, and we had a really nice little creek all to ourselves, with beavers and fish. The water was so cold I could hardly stand it.
I loved the creek. We even had our own private island in the middle of the creek. It was tiny, but so what? It was AWESOME! We also had a small rowboat that we could play and paddle in. One day, my brother Chad and I were in the boat. A beaver came swimming towards us.
I was FREAKED.
I didn't want that Beaver anywhere near me. (I don't know why) Anyway, despite me waving my arms and shouting at the beaver to GO AWAY, he would not listen. He would not go away. Instead, the beaver just kept swimming towards us.
Feeling desperate, I looked for something I could throw at the beaver to scare it away.
For some reason, there were some pretty large rocks at the bottom of the boat. I picked one up. It was a pretty heavy rock actually, but I figured I could handle it. I hoisted the rock with all my might towards the Beaver. I was just trying to scare it away. But...to my horror...that rock became a guided missile that landed squarely right smack on top of that poor beavers' head.
That beaver just SANK to the bottom.
I watched his body disappear beneath the swirling water.
I was HORRIFIED.
My stomach, (just like the beaver) sank, and I felt SICK.
Seconds later he emerged to the surface but it was clear to me that he was "not right in the head". The beaver was obviously dazed and disoriented and he kept sinking back down beneath the water.
"God please forgive me" I begged.
I no longer throw rocks.
We cleared the land on the farm all by ourselves. I remember many hornets and wasp attacks. I would be running for my life and getting stung. We all did. I remember clearing lots and lots of brush and I remember operating a small bobcat with my dad. After we cleared the land ourselves. My dad poured us a basement to live in (with plans to build a house on top one day) and we moved into the basement. When we moved in, there was...
NO RUNNING WATER.
Also, the basement didn't have a proper roof or windows. They were plastic. One time, when my dad was "up North" doing a construction job for a few months. It rained really hard. Water began to leak into the plastic ceiling in huge puddles. I remember dreaming about swimming and I kept getting splashed by cold water. I woke up suddenly because my mom was yelling at me to MOVE! Above my head was an enormous puddle of water about to BURST. We popped the plastic with a sharp knife in order to drain the water in a controlled manner. We used every bowl, Tupperware container, pot and pan we could find to catch all the water that dripped and dripped from every room in the basement. My brother and I kept busy emptying all the containers of water and putting them back in place all across the entire house in a long row.
I didn't care...In my mind, I was living a great adventure! I was almost a real pioneer girl (my hero was Laura Ingalls Wilder) and I felt true kinship with her by experiencing these "hardships". I created a world for myself in which I was a modern-day heroine and I played the part with gusto.
I loved to talk...especially to myself. Mom would send me down to the creek to wash vegetables for dinner. (no running water) I was washing carrots and potatoes in water so icy cold my fingers absolutely ached. Regardless of this, I was as cheerful as I could be, squatting at the edge of the water happily chattering away non-stop. I think we got running water about 3 weeks after we moved in. I don't remember when the electricity arrived, but I do remember when we got the wood stove because I was so HAPPY! I really do hate to be cold.
The basement was good sized. I had my own room (next to the wood-burning stove we eventually got) My bother had his own room too. None of us had a door. Not even my parents. The bathroom did have a door. We had a bright yellow kitchen and in the adjoining room, we had furniture of soft brown velvet with big flowers all over the couch and love seat.
I remember my teacher (her name was Esther) came to visit us in those early days before the wood stove. At first, we sat in the living room, but it was so darn cold that we eventually all huddled together on my parents' bed under quilts and sipping hot mugs of steamy tea to stay warm. It was quite a cozy visit!
My brother and I learned to work hard. I laugh about it now. In my mind, all the hard work was just part of my adventure as a modern-day pioneer, but to my brother it was TORTURE. He describes mowing the grass at 8 years old..."I was too short to reach the real handles, so I stood in between the handle and the middle cross-bar and pushed the lawn-mower that way...we had at least an acre of grass, and it took me ALL day!"
I mostly remember milking the goats every morning and evening and walking in the snow to get to school. In the summer wild roses and bright Indian paintbrush flowers grew alongside the road. It was a long dirt road with fields on one side and untamed forest on the other. The walking gave me time to think, imagine, and plan my life...It was during one such walk, that I decided to become a nurse when I grew up.
Despite all the hard work, we had plenty of play time. We were always playing together. I was the queen of imagination and we played games of "pretend" in which we were the characters of the story we wrote for ourselves...I was always "Sharon" and he was always "John"...and no matter what the storyline of the day was...Chad was always a sheriff carrying his toy guns.
Life on the farm was never boring.
We had a HUGE garden. We had many goats and chickens. Various other animals appeared and disappeared over the years including rabbits and dogs, sheep and even a cow.
My dad wrote a poem all about this next story.
To this day, I have a dislike for sheep. One sheep in particular. His name was Abner. Abner became my sworn mortal enemy. Every time he saw me, he would somehow escape the fence and charge towards me full speed. The first time it happened, I was caught off-guard. I was just walking to the compost pile, carrying my slop bucket when suddenly he put his head down and charged towards me. I realized too late he was after me! I started to run for my life, but I was not fast enough...Suddenly, I was flying through the air and I landed hard on my bottom.
I grew terrified of going outside. It happened every time he saw me. My dad was not happy. The last time Abner charged me, my dad was there and intervened. The ram and my dad faced each other and the ram put his head down and charged at my dad full speed ahead.
My dad was STRONG (he carried 200 lb bags of cement on his shoulders all day long) He faced the ram head on and as Abner approached, my dad reached maximum fury. In a crazy-ass stunt maneuver, he reached forward, grabbed the ram by his front legs and flipped him back over his head and then wrestled him to the ground. It was CRAZY. Shortly thereafter we all sat down to a very fine lamb chop meal.
Sometimes, the taste of revenge can be pretty sweet.
One summer when a bunch of my cousins came to visit. I think I was around 10 years old. All the boy cousins had camped out in a tent by the creek. My cousin Jody and I thought it would be super fun to sleep in the barn with the goats. We made a bed in the hay and snuggled together reading Doonesbury by flashlight and we were having a great time. The goats, however, were not happy with this arrangement. They were freaking out. Eventually, we decided to leave the barn because the goats were so darn upset. On our way out the door, a pitchfork fell on my big toe.
I started hollering and I mean HOLLERING! The boy cousins came racing up the embankment in their "tightie whities" to see what was going on. I was hollering and screaming and holding my toe. I remember Chad, Cory and Channing (my boy cousins) carrying me by my arms and legs back to the basement while the other younger boy cousins "helped" as well. We were quite the sight in the moonlight. A bunch of kids all in their underwear carrying a screaming hollering girl by her arms and legs several hundred feet down the path to get help.
I felt so loved.
What a dramatic rescue!
I still bear the scar on my toe from that pitchfork.
It is a happy little scar.
More stories to come.
Thank-you all for reading.