Memories of Childhood Dreams


mybabypicI was born in Michigan. My mother was a nurse, my father was a policeman, and I had an older brother named Jimmy.  When I was four, Daddy and Mama sold our Victorian cottage, hitched a trailer to the back of our car, and we headed south. That first year we lived near Tampa.  The only thing I remember about the Temple Trailer Park is that it was situated beside an icy cold natural sulphur spring where I learned how to swim. A year later Daddy found a job as a highway patrolman and at the end of the summer we arrived at Mitchell’s Trailer Park in a wooded area of Tallahassee. Daddy parked our trailer under a mossy oak tree beside a deep drainage ditch whose sides were webbed with tree roots. I had never seen a ditch or a tree that big and everything about our new forest home seemed magical to me.
Our dark green trailer had a life-sized Indian head at the top where the curved front wall met the roof.  To me he was a friendly guardian warrior. Our new home was too small for a bathtub, so Mama would bathe me in the big sink in the community wash house. With the help of the trailer park handy man, Daddy built a screened porch and put in bunk beds for Jimmy and me. I loved sleeping out there.  The nights were cool and you could hear crickets, tree frogs and hoot owls. In the mornings the birds began chirping at first light. On windy nights it sounded like the trees were humming, and when it rained we fell asleep to the rat-a-tat-tat of rain drops and acorns drumming on the tin roof.
Mama got a job working nights at the hospital. She slept during the day while Daddy was at work and Jimmy was at school, so I entertained myself. I got so accustomed to being alone that once when a little girl asked me to come out and play, I wouldn’t go. She bit my hand and ran away! I couldn’t imagine what her problem was. Another time I folded several pieces of typing paper into a book. Since I didn’t know how to write, I drew pictures.  First, I drew myself waking up in bed. Then I was sitting on the potty, then eating a bowl of oatmeal at the kitchen table. By the fourth page I couldn’t think of anything else to draw. I found this very frustrating. Filling a book with the thoughts and images inside my head seemed like a beautiful, impossible dream.
lantanaOne summer day Daddy took me for a walk down the dirt road beside the trailer park. The drainage ditches on either side were rimmed with colorful wildflowers and he taught me their names. Snapdragon. Lantana.  Japanese honeysuckle. When he stopped beside a wood fence I climbed up, looked over the top, and fell in love! It was a stable yard. I had never seen a horse before and thought these were the most beautiful creatures I’d ever seen. When I saw people riding them I wanted to ride too, so Daddy paid a quarter for a lesson.  While the lady cinched up the saddle, the brown and white pony took a deep breath to balloon his belly. When he let it out the girth loosened up. At first this was fine, but when he trotted the saddle began a slow slide down his right side and before long I was on the ground! I thought this was a great adventure. That’s the day my dream of having a horse of my own was born.
A few days later all I could think about was how much I wanted to ride that pony. I couldn’t find a quarter, so since Mama was asleep I borrowed one from a lady in a nearby trailer. Then I walked to the stable and had a fine ride. When the lady told my parents about my visit, I couldn’t understand why they seemed worried. I was rather proud of my creative solution! They gave me a quarter to pay back the lady, told me to apologize for borrowing money, and said I was never to do it again. I didn’t.
My life has changed in many ways since then, but some things haven’t changed at all. I still love trees and the patterns of roots and the magic and mystery of forests. I love the way Native Americans respect and protect nature. I love the night, the sounds of wind and rain. I love being alone. I love writing books. I love flowers and horses and new adventures. And when a dream feels really, really important to me, I pursue it until I make it happen.
My wish for you is that you’ll remember who you are and what you love, and that you’ll be able to pursue your dreams until you make them happen.
You can find my newest book, Healing the Sacred Divide, at my Amazon author’s page or Larson Publications, Inc.

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16 Responses

    1. Thanks, Viv. I wrote it for my granddaughter, who needed a letter from me for a school cross-generational project, and my daughter suggested I share it here. It was interesting to re-visit my roots from this distance. It all fits and makes sense now.

  1. What a beautiful story about your love of horses.
    Dreams are treasures.
    May we continue to dream and may our happy dreams come true

  2. Beautiful words. I lost myself in them and found myself in the screened porch, walking along the ditch, seeing the Lantanas and Snapdragons, the roots too and then,riding a pony.

    1. It’s amazingly fresh in my memory after all these years. The whole time I wrote this I was enveloped in a warm, bittersweet embrace. I can still smell the lantanas and feel the love of my parents. They tried so hard to be good parents and do the right things. We poor, flawed mortals are so beautiful. Thanks for your lovely comment.

  3. Just wanted to thank you for these nostalgic images that reached out and tugged at my inner sanctum; I suspect most creative souls are independent little people, with a straightforward mission to explore magic in all its forms. Your personal voice is beautiful, and I was right there with you listening to the rain and breathing in the aromas of a damp forest. Your childhood environment is the one I’m planning for my retirement, hopefully with ocean sounds thrown into the mix.

    1. I like your description of the creative soul very much. Yes, it does feel like I’ve always had “a straightforward mission to explore magic in all its forms.” You too? By the time I was seven Daddy found us a house in the city, but the forest feels like my true home. Before we moved into the house though, we spend one summer in a trailer park beside Clearwater Beach! Talk about magical. I hope you find a place like that! Thanks for writing.

    1. Thanks, Bob. I didn’t write about the most magical one. One day Daddy and I followed the ditch deep into the forest. The further we got, the deeper the ditch got until it must have been 10 or 12 feet deep. What I found so fascinating was the way the tree roots criss-crossed into ladders along the sides of the ditch all the way to the bottom. I begged Daddy to let me climb down there but he wouldn’t let me. I guess he was afraid I’d fall. He made me promise never to do it alone so I didn’t, but oh, how I wanted to. Now I see a correlation between my fascination with that chasm, those roots, and my fascination with exploring my inner depths. It’s all connected, isn’t it?

  4. Jean; This post took me back to my wonderful childhood growing up on and in the outskirts of Orlando on Dubstread Golf Course. Thanks for the Memories. Carol
    Carol Sawyer Lotspeich

    1. Thanks, Carol. And you’re welcome. Weren’t we lucky to grow up in “outskirts?” While I thoroughly enjoy the many benefits of city life, I find the wild feminine fringes to be so much more magical and nurturing to young people than civilization’s masculine inner city “inpants!” 🙂

  5. there are a lot of things I find touching about this passage, especially the things she didn’t know: being baffled by the neighbor girl and the literalness of her first book.

    1. I like that you found the things I didn’t know touching. To me that says our imperfections are far more interesting than our “perfections,” (if there is such a thing). Flaws are the human condition and everyone can relate to that. Otherwise, I guess we’d be superhuman? We’re obviously far from that!

  6. I grew up on the outskirts, too. Dirt roads and fields of wild oats. The kind of freedom that children don’t seem to have anymore. On another blog, we’ve been having a discussion of The Little Match Girl story, as told by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. I love your message of pursuing our dreams and making them happen, rather than accepting the feelings of unworthiness foisted upon us by other people and letting our little lights go out, one after another.

  7. I consider the freedom of my youth to be one of my greatest blessings. Even when we moved to Tampa the kids in our neighborhood played outdoors every afternoon and weekend when school was in session and all day every day in the summer. Nature seemed magical to me then and it still does. I don’t know where my persistence comes from. Maybe it’s a genetic trait. My mother always said I was one-track-minded, but never in a harsh way. Thank goodness that little light never went out!

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