Monday, May 26, 2008

Summer memories

During the last day of the Oklahoma State Cup, a friend and I sat in our chairs, in the shade that was provided by their portable awning, for hours watching soccer. In the midst of our small talk, we got on the topic of critters that we played with when we were wee little children. And when I say critters, I'm not talking about our cute pets we had when growing up that posed no threat. I'm talking about those that you find creeping and crawling around the outside of your house, or in a field, hiding in the dirt and under plants.

We probably happened onto this topic because our own children kept coming up to us with a new creature for us to observe and shoving it inches from our eyes, because children believe that their parents have reached that hard of seeing stage straight out of the womb.

So we shared stories of how we played with insects, toads or whatever we could find to entertain us during our summers as children. And then how we stopped playing with nature's little toys once we were bit, poked or spat at.

My memories of growing up in West Texas include playing with "horny toads" that we would round up from a nearby empty lot and place our findings in a shoe box so that we could determine which was the father, mother and the babies. We would mark the mother with a dab of nail polish (yes, I know this was wrong, but at the time, I was just too young to know better). And how did we know this was the mother, you ask? Simple, she was the medium sized one.
We always let our creatures go at the end of the day, but I'll never forget the time that I placed one of the horny toads on the ledge of a vent that went underneath a house and as soon as I let go of him he went into that vent through a hole that shouldn't have been there. He had no way out, at least as far as I knew. I worried about that little guy for a long time and as you can see, never forgot him. My days of playing with these toads came to an abrupt halt when one of them spat blood at me. This story consisted of a girl, her sister, her dog and an empty lot. A story to be told at another time, but an incident I'll never forget.

As for other creatures that entertained me as a child, who didn't love finding those small depressions in the dirt knowing it contained a doodle bug. We would squat down low and with our finger or a stick, move the dirt around and watch to see if the dirt would move on it's own. How exciting this was to watch intently and be rewarded by this movement. Can you believe we played near something so horrifyingly ugly?

And what about those noisy locust that sat up high in the trees and made that annoying screeching sound. We would catch them when they landed low on the bark of trees and hold them by their wings and watch them vibrate as they tried to fly away. I never played with locust after one tried to extract sap from my finger, but before that, finding the baby locust in the grass was amazingly fun!

What interesting critters did you enjoy as a child?


Angie said...

I haven't seen a horny toad in YEARS! We used to catch them and carry them around all day in cigar boxes. My grandmother used to make us turn them loose before we came inside for the evenings.

Tanya said...

Well of course you named all of mine, but one thing about those locusts - didn't they pee on us? Oh, one you didn't name was Daddy Long-Legs. Gross.