I really only meant to take a few pictures and then go back inside. It was close to bedtime, after all, and we don’t usually go romping across the fields after dinner. Sometimes we swing a bit or go to dig in the sand pile, but mostly we clean things up and then run circles ’round one another until Mama hollers that it’s bedtime, or someone crashes into someone else and we all have a good cry, or sometimes both.
But the home we call Janderhil is surrounded by fields and fields of farmland with ever-shifting identities; sometimes they’re cornfields, sometimes they’re bean fields, but this summer they’re wheat, and they’ve gone from deep green to yellow-gold in the weeks since we’ve moved here. The wind is strong here on the Hill, good for drying clothes outdoors and for a windmill (if we had one). And the wind blows the wheat in acre-long ripples that makes it move just like water.
It’s impossible for me to see the waving stalks of wheat and not think about Robert Louis Stevenson’s poem Pirate Story:
Three of us afloat in the meadow by the swing,
Three of us abroad in the basket on the lea.
Winds are in the air, they are blowing in the spring,
And waves are on the meadow like the waves there are at sea.
Nearly every day I stop a moment and watch the waves move across the fields, and so I don’t remember when exactly I started to dream about putting all three boys in a basket in a field with pirate get-up at golden hour. But it was a few days ago that I finally tried to put the plan into action.
So that evening, after dinner, we struck out into the “sea” for pictures. It didn’t exactly work–I don’t have a basket big enough for the three of them–but a wagon sufficed for part of the journey, at least until our scout spotted land and the adventure truly began.
Clive’s spyglass was a wooden train whistle, but he saw the rocks across the field anyway. There was treasure there! They were sure of it. Come on, come on, let’s find it, they cried, and Mama’s agenda was abandoned to the true muse of Imagination.
I love it when that happens.
There is something about Janderhil that has caused our Clivey to really blossom. I’ve always assumed he must have a vivid, rich imagination, but it was mostly an educated guess based on how he habitually went off by himself to sit quietly and read, play with his cars, or just stare pensively off into the distance. I recognized the behavior, and I felt sure he must be composing stories for himself in his head when he did that. And now, suddenly, all of those stories have been bursting forth from him, roping us all into the adventure in the process. He is the ringleader when it comes to make-believe.
He has also suddenly become an excellent puppeteer. That runs in the family, so I’m not surprised.
The island of boulders yielded no treasure but a rather large bush of what appears to be blackberries, and the signs that a groundhog has been living there recently. And so our ship turned and moved on.
Anselm is The Cat That Walks By Himself. Every day while the older boys scamper about to do this and play that, Anselm often heads off in the other direction to do whatever it is that he–and he alone–has set his mind to.
And so while the pirates Ephraim and Clive rushed on ahead, Anselm meandered with Grandfather and picked flowers. Purple clover, tall and eye-catching among the grasses, was his blossom of choice–he plucked the heads off of the stalks, crying Purple, purple! It is the only color he seems to know so far. I wonder if it is his favorite.
Another search for treasure in the form of hedge apples also left the boys empty-handed. It’s too early in the year for them, yet; they’ll learn that as they get older. Soon most of the pirate play was abandoned for just plain sword fights and the traditional Running In Circles which is common at this time of night. Mama’s request for a group photo was met with a little resistance, and Clive boycotted the whole thing by retreating into his head and examining a purple clover blossom instead.
I spent so many days and nights running through these fields as a child, and they were different planets, or part of the journey to Salamandastron, or part of Narnia (though the gateway to that land was at my Grandmother’s house, not on the farm.) Nights like this Pirate Story is part of why I wanted so badly to come back. Next time maybe we will find the treasure in the form of ripe blackberries or hedge apples, or more memories and make-believe.