Wednesday, April 01, 2009

At the bottom of the hill...

Bush Babe told one of her earliest memories today.

I don't really remember that one happening, however it is in my memory of family lore.

I do remember another adventure we shared, though.

I think my mother must have been pregnant for a very long time with our brother, for there are many stories that include the line "when mum was pregnant with Pig" (well, okay, we don't really call him that, although there was a time in his life when his friends didn't know his real name) - sorry, I digress.

So anyhow, Bush Babe and I had a great little game that we played nearly every day this one Spring.

At the bottom of the hill, towards the river, was the corner of the paddock. There was the junction of three fences, three gates all meeting at a large gum tree.

On the unfenced side, there was a stay built with logs and plain wire, and at some point at the end of winter, a grass fire had charred the underside.

It was the perfect place for two little girls, aged 5 and 3, to head down to and get out from under Mums feet.

Mum didn't mind - we were country kids and quite resilient - and she could keep us in line of sight when she looked out of the kitchen window.

This particular month, The Cisco Kid and Pancho were directing our play - Bush Babe, being the elder, automatically assumed the role of The Cisco Kid while I played her sidekick, Pancho.

Many was the time we would gallop up to our hitching rail (well, she would gallop up on her faithful steed (and dear lordy me, I have forgotten the steed's name!!) and I would trot up on my mule) - and we would eat imaginary beans and shoot imaginary bad guys and have a whale of a time.

This particular day, we were in the good books with Mum (or she was particularly exhausted) and so she freed us to our fantasy land at the bottom of the hill straight after lunch.

It was a very hot day, and after some time of serious Cisco/Pancho action we were very hot little girls.

The obvious choices were to walk ALL the way UP the HILL to the swimming pool - or to sneak down to the river, where the water was murky and hiding grown trees and weeds that wrapped around your limbs.

Hmm. Tough one, hey?

Of course we went to the river. But we were careful - we didn't want Mum to get mad, so we stripped down to our undies and paddled on the edges...

It was a very hot day - so hot indeed that our teenage neighbour across the river had a boat load of mates zooming in their speedboat along the river.

We didn't want teenagers to see us in our undies, so we did the logical thing. We hid. Its easy to hide in a murky water accentuated with withered branches and weeds that could wrap around your limbs. You just duck - and pray.

The next scene in this memory is sudden and sharp.

Mum at the water's edge in the landrover, the engine screaming and her not far behind.

Its funny, but she didn't have much of a sense of humour about the whole situation - about the looking down the hill and failing to see her little Cisco and Pancho; about seeing empty clothes strewn on the edge of the river; about not seeing children splashing in the weeds, not seeing children among the white ghost branches, seeing only murky water waving with the splash of the speedboat.

We resurfaced and I don't think either of us touched ground as she dragged and threw us into the rover, neither of us spoke aloud at Mum's transgression at leaving a gate open on her trip down (although some versions of the myth having her driving THROUGH the fence) - we had one image in our mind, and that was the one she drew starkly as she explained we were in very BIG TROUBLE.

We are talking the early 70s here, and the early 70s didn't have namby-pamby parenting on tap. There were consequences that hurt - your pride as much as you skin, but it was a close race.

I got six (and we aren't talking her daily threat of wooden spoon here), but as the "older, more responsible" child, Bush Babe got 12.

And then, for the rest of the afternoon we were within 3 feet of Mum with a bottle of silvo in one hand, a rag in the other and a whole cabinet full of two generations of trophies to polish.


Pencil Writer said...

Man! Ouch! And, my trauma was so tame by comparrison. I remember being six, I think, and being intrigued by Mom and Dad's twist-up deodorant. So intrigued, in fact, that I twisted it up past the breaking point. Rather than fess up immediately, I waited for the misdeed to be discovered, praying fervently that "somehow" the stuff would miraculously fix itself and I'd be off the hook.

Well, when my military father found out--and I simply couldn't tell a lie--didn't have it in me, I suppose--I was lambasted and felt like the lowest of weivels.

Pencil Writer said...

Sorry! I got interrupted by a phone call and failed to "end the story". I think my punishment was perhaps just, though over-the-top considering the infraction of a very curious child only trying to understand how things work, you know. I had to clean the bathroom--by my self--every Saturday for weeks. (Maybe two, but heaven forbid, it was more than 40--excuse me--50 years ago! *face is flaming red*

Debby said...

A number of comments spring to mind:

No crocs in your neck of the woods?

Between Bush Babe's story and your story, it's a wonder that poor Pig was carried to term.

Yeah. I'm the oldest too, BB. The burden of responsibility is a heavy burden indeed.

*dramatic sigh*

Kari said...

Oh my brothers and I have such stories too. It is always fun to talk about them. To this day mom doesn't find them all that funny, but we do!

I didn't know you had a brother, I knew you had a sister but for some reason I thought it was you two. I really do learn something new everyday.

Kari said...

Oh, and yes I agree with Debby the burden of being the oldest is heavy indeed. Even now soemtimes.

Woman in a Window said...

The good old days! Isn't it mind blowing that we survived at all!

My kids would love to play in an area like you described and would probably rish a beaten' at least once. Great story!

Mistress B said...

and all the younger siblings think that being the oldest is more fun......... *shakes head*

Jayne said...

I'm the only one and I got it anytime I was out of Mum's line of sight lol.

Amanda said...

...being the eldest is most definitely NOT fun!

Jay said...

Yup, this is a great story!

Widdle Shamrock said...

Love the memory !!!

Apart from the spanking ouch!!!