Independent (until the street lights come on)

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Let me start this by saying that I am not a trained writer. I went to school for nursing and only took the required English class to get into the program so please exercise forgiveness regarding the grammar and styling of this piece. I went to sleep thinking about independence and woke up this morning with this collection of memories that help to illustrate how the times we live in have limited independence in some ways. Maybe someone with more writing experience can turn this into something great.

When I was a kid I had so much more independence then I would ever feel comfortable giving my children now. My grandparents would pick us up every summer and take us to this little northern Michigan town on Lake Huron called Oscoda. It is one of those places that you might travel through on a back road that seems to have gotten stuck in the 1950’s. There was a drugstore with a soda fountain that sold hand dipped ice cream and floats and the movie theater only had one screen. My sister, cousins and I would come and go all day long as we pleased.
We would wake up early to Good Morning America on the TV and the smell of coffee and bacon. Breakfast was a bowl of cheerios and a plates of strawberries with equal on top. Our bikes were lying in the grass waiting for us, still cool and wet with dew. We rode. We rode all morning. Down to the lake, that felt as big and vast as the ocean, and play in the waves. Maybe we would go to this little island in the middle of the AuSable River and eat blackberries right off the bushes. We even picked apples from a tree in my Aunt Edna’s yard and went door to door selling to make money to go to the movies.
We would go back to eat lunch with my grandma, tomato sandwiches and a glass of milk, just to let her know we were still alive. After lunch was gobbled up we were back on our bikes headed for the park at the elementary school to play some game we had made up on the way there. From there, we headed to the movies or to the bridge to watch the canoe races. We stayed busy running and playing all over town only going home to eat supper and run off again.
Sunset was my favorite time of the day. Evening usually meant swimming in the river, seeing who could get out to the sandbar first. We would also go down to this little bayou off the river behind my aunt’s house and sit on the top of the hill looking down at the water. We would catch frogs or if we got there at just the right time, we could watch the family of beavers collecting sticks and building there home. My grandma didn’t care how much time we spent exploring this little town as long as we were inside when the streetlights came on.
These are some of my most treasured memories and I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to have all of these magical experiences. Things are different for my children today. I’m not sure if it is because we live in a big city or because of all of the horrible stories I see on the news everyday but there is no way I would let my children out if my sight for a second. As much as I long for them to have the same feeling of independence that I had as a child, I do not feel comfortable allowing them to leave the security of our backyard. Maybe one day we can get back to that time, a time when children could run free as long as they were home when the streetlights came on.

Created: Feb 13, 2012

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