Monday, September 19, 2011


I grew up in the middle of nowhere, Indiana.  I don't want to give the impression that it was a bad thing.  Far from it.  As I grew into my twenties and moved away from the Middle of Nowhere, I was surprised to find people that did not cherish their childhoods the way I did.  But then again, Opie had nothing on me.  I had Pa, Aunt Bea, and a mom.  

Maybe it is a midlife crises. Maybe it is being dislodged and moving to a new state with my husband, and our children in college in two different states.  Maybe is it a need to get things out there before I forget them.  Maybe it's cheaper than therapy.

Regardless...  I feel the need to post some of my weirder childhood memories.  Buckle up.

I was fortunate enough to grow up with a bunch of non-girly girls for friends.  We weren't tom boys, but we didn't live and breathe pepto-bismol pink either. We camped - A LOT - on each other's properties.  We spent summers outdoors.  We did really stupid things, and by the grace of God, lived to tell about them.

And like most of my friends, I grew up on a farm. Sometime during my childhood, my father had a pond dug out along a creek path that ran just below a hill in front of our house.  He had it stocked with bass and sunfish.  It was great for fishing and ice skating.  Here is a view of the house from the pond.

I  remember this view well.  From that spot, I was a heroic olympic bob sledder in the winter and a combination of Nancy Drew and Marlin Perkins in the summer.  My mom grew watercress down there, so I considered myself a hunter/gatherer sort too.  I fished once or twice by myself, but being deathly afraid of actually touching a fish, my activities were mostly limited to gathering.

At some point, we acquired a "raft."  I use the term loosely, and apologize to the person (my brother?) responsible for its construction.  It was two empty barrels, loosely attached to the bottom of some wood slats nailed together.

One day, when we were old enough to know better, my friend Kathy and I grabbed a couple oars and took the raft out onto our rather large pond.  When we almost reached the far shore, one of us - probably me - dropped an oar.  This rendered our craft extremely difficult to maneuver.  We were trying to determine our next move, when we looked up and noticed the shore was moving.  Seriously.  Moving.  We looked closer, and were horrified to learn that the movement consisted of toads.

I'm not talking about ten or twenty toads.

I'm talking hundreds, maybe thousands of toads.

Having toad orgies.

I wish I were kidding, but the image of CLUMPS of toads, doing all sorts of dirty toady things, is burned into the photo album in my head forever.  EWWWW!!  They were so thick, we didn't trust finding a bare patch of shore to land on if we jumped.  And like every day between the end of one school year and the beginning of the next, we were both barefoot.  Ugh.  This was by far the grossest thing I had seen up to that point in my life.  Well, I take that back.  My mother and Aunt Sis "cleaning" chickens was like a Wes Craven movie unfolding before my eyes on our patio - but that's a story for another day.  

Since I sit here today, I assume we made it safely back to the near shore, physically but not mentally unscathed.  I can't remember telling my mother what happened when we finally reached the safety and security of the house, or her reaction.  But knowing my mom, I like to think she had trouble keeping a straight face.


  1. I love this - seriously! But that might be because I'm a fan of weird childhood memories (it's true, I am) or maybe it's because I vividly remember the annual Invasion of the Baby Toads. Guess the toad orgies (really, Joanie? gross) paid off.

  2. Hilarious!! I remember all the tiny baby toads every Spring. I also remember stories of Uncle Denny trying to get us kids to step on them, on the patio. EWWW!!