For as long as I can remember before moving to Toronto, I had lived in an old, crumbly red brick farm house. It had an enormous yard, one that seemed to go on for eternity, and was surrounded on three sides by forestry. Along the main road in front of the house, there were forests, fields and many pastures occupied by various coloured cows and horses any direction you looked. With all this land, my brother and I were free to explore and go on our adventures of our own, just as Dora the Explorer and her sidekick Boots. Over the hills, under the branches, and through the woods we went, using larger sticks for support. Some days we would spend from sunrise to sunset at Rice lake catching frogs, fishing or popping open the bulrush pods, but never harming anything or anyone. Looking back, this gave my brother and I a safe environment in which we could connect with nature, giving us both a deeper respect and appreciation for the world on which we inhabit. It was our little world, our safe haven to explore.
Everyday was something new, something exciting. In the winter, so much snow fell that at times we would be trapped in our house. With no snowplows to clear a path to town, our only forms of transportation cross country-skis, snowshoes and my favourite, snowmobiles. Bundling up in our snow gear, we would venture out to the back of our house, remove the snow-covered tarps, rev up the engines, and be on our way. When the lake had frozen over, sometimes we would drive from one end to the other. Other days we would hack away at a meter of ice and go ice-fishing, hoping to catch a Bass or two to cook for dinner. Or perhaps we would go to the top of the tall road for tobogganing, as no people in cars were going in or out of town. Then when the day was done, we would all return to the warmth inside, toss a couple of freshly chopped logs into the fireplace, and gather round for a few games of Monopoly. If we were outside in the sub-par temperature to look at the midnight sky, you could see stars from one end of the universe to the other.
In the summer, there was a zillion things to be done. As soon as our parents set up the pool, it was time for my brother and two sisters and I to run in circles, attempting to create a whirl- pool. Of course this never worked out, but the entertainment it provided was more satisfying than obtaining our actual goal. When we were done in the pool, we would find our nets and buckets and containers and run about trying to capture our fellow creatures. From butterflies to caterpillars to bullfrogs and toads, we loved to play with the insects and wildlife around us. On some days we would head up or down the road to nearby farms, asking our neighbours and friends if they would take us for a horse ride (in my brother and I’s case, a pony ride), or ask to help milk the cows while petting them, all the while thanking the animals and their owners for their kindness. Every single day as the sun began to set, we would climb up the ladder to our treehouse and watch the yellow and orange sphere in the sky descend beyond the horizon, to pits unknown. Then sometimes as we closed our eyes to sleep we would hear the yips of the coyotes or the howling of wolves who dared venture so far south in the summer.