If any of us thinks back on our youth, I feel sure that we will view ourselves as having been much freer spirits than we are today. In most cases, our lives will seem to have been without limits and boundaries. Perhaps that was our reality then and also perhaps, now that we are wiser – not to mention a bit older, our realities are lost (or hidden) in the mountains of restrictions that our social lives and age have placed on us all. With that in mind, the following is a memory of a reality. It is a visit to a time when I was a freer spirit and it is certainly a time when ‘today’ was not a consideration. The following is from me to you and there are no claims on it to be anything but a footnote of an event. Consider it a “P.S.” on the childhood memories of a kid, and as all of us know, kids’ invent all sorts of stuff.
During vacations we would get up in the mornings and run out into the street by my house and get together to do nothing else but “play”. Bread would be baking in someone’s home and the thick full aroma that floated on the streets still resides in (at least) one of my nostrils. Each day started the same in that we would each arrive at the corner and then go to the playing field nearby at almost the same time and start at the same point we left off yesterday. More than once we would start the day by going to a sandy lot by my house and place our marbles in the same spots as they were the evening before. Conversations and arguments would pick up where they left off yesterday and, in that way, it seemed like one long continuous summer that was an uninterrupted, lovely - lengthy play-time. It was bliss.
One of those summers was interrupted by the unplanned and certainly the unexpected. This interruption happened at the start of our vacation and - as such - the rest of the vacation was textured by this event that happened and we spent endless nights talking about it. Today, as adults, when we meet and talk about old times – which is seldom, the same old summer event comes up and we start to go over it again, perhaps hoping to squeeze another forgotten detail from that one day. This particular summer, my best friend "Denchie" introduced me to 'hiking'. It is something he discovered by reading a “Scouts’” book and felt the two of us would be just perfect at it. After all, we had Cunucus, beaches and all sorts of other places to go to and partake in the glory of a long ‘hike’. As planned, this discovery resulted in walks in Cunucus and along miles of beaches. This was an age where "Fast-Food" didn't exist and to keep ourselves nourished we hiked with brown paper bags that held sandwiches and bananas or whatever the available fruit was. One of us carried a "Community" thermos filled with ice which would be busy turning itself into cold water. That was 'then', this is 'now' and I'm still not decided on which is a better time to be alive, and I suppose that the answer to that is of no consequence.
We were in the Cunucus of Dakota. This area had not been developed at all and was nothing more than a dense woody area that had many crisscrossing paths or small trails. I recall how we would hike and encounter other walkers that would be using the paths for more serious business such as going shopping or returning home carrying something. In the same way that capillaries serve the blood stream, these small trails served that small area of the island. We were moving along and talking in the dense woods following one of the small paths of that area and Denchie heard something. "Wanta" "Wait" he said. I stood still. He leaned his head and I did the same to try and hear what he did. Finally I did. It was the faint sound of pain. We said nothing and started to walk over to the source of that sound. The sound of pain became so much more obvious and I remember being glassy-eyed at the thought of what awaited us.
The two of us were absolutely focused on this one single sound. It was a wailing or bleating sound and it penetrated me before I ever saw the source. Then there it was - A baby goat stuck in the "V" of the base branches of a small tree. The mother goat was standing close enough to her baby and in doing so was leaning on it and her love was causing it more pain by further driving the baby goat into the “V”. Hidden in the under-brush of tangled trees and dense bushes were the other goats. It was an astoundingly large herd - all silent and looking. This small creature looked skyward and pained and the bleating sound that had drawn us there finally sank into us.
At the onset, we were nothing more than two boys on a hike but now we knew that we were now involved in something beyond what the day had set out to be. However in all that, the solution to the pain was so very simple. We could do what the mother could not, and that is, lift the baby goat out of the "V". Simple. Denchie went over and gently moved the mother goat to the side, then lifted the baby out of her predicament and set her on the ground. And with this, in the woods and in the middle of the day, our day was about to begin and this beginning would offer us more surprises than we had already experienced. I was sure that all of the goats would now be happy and make some sort of a happy goat sound and then run off. It imagined that we would feel better and be heroes – at least in the eyes of the goats. It didn't happen that way.
The entire herd stayed and then came out from under the trees and foliage to slowly move over to Denchie. As these skittish and wild animals moved over to him his face showed that he now knew that something was happening and that this "something" was good. A conversation was silently taking place. He started to quietly laugh and then knelt down. He was getting lost in this herd of absolutely wild animals and the thread of instinct that dwells in us all told him to sit – he did. I watched as his new (if only temporary) tribe of grateful friends rubbed against him while making low murmuring sounds. I stared in amazement as he laughed like a boy that has just been surprised on his birthday. The sight was remarkable, and when he realized I was standing off to the side, he invited me to sit with him.
I started to slowly walk into the herd but as I did, I noticed that some of the goats left. I backed off and they went back to this small ring of natural appreciation for another living thing. The goats were saying thank you to a boy and did not want me to interfere. I'm not sure how it worked but after a few minutes of this "closeness" they suddenly left. I watched as they left their pellet-like droppings behind. Denchie had been sitting in a pile of these pellets himself. He looked down and laughed and I went over to him and sat with him in these pellets of love. We were boys and it was an uncomfortable thing to do but we hugged. We never carried our slingshots on hikes again that summer and used them only for shooting at tin-cans. When not hiking, we stuck to marbles and spinning tops.
When "Kite" season came we immersed ourselves in that. Hiking became a regular thing and although we had discussed and planned how we would handle various situations. We never found any other distressed animals. It was a different time and I know that I was a freer spirit than I am today. As I reflect on that time, I also know that my life was without limit or boundaries and that the only thing that ever held me back from anything was 'me'. That was my reality and without doubt I was blessed to have lived it. My only pain is that I cannot seem to pass on this "spell" or "aura" to my children or to those I speak to.
I wish so much that I could tell you how much I love living here. If you are only a visitor, then I am sorry for you. You will taste this rock but cannot live it nor can you allow her to devour you in the same way as she allows me to live here and, in the end, Aruba will take me into her soil. If you are a visitor, it is quite possible that at the end of your stay, you are not going back to reality. Perhaps this is reality and what we create elsewhere is the unfortunate.
If you are a resident, it is up to you to protect this reality, because while in our lives we will come to many “VEES” in the road, the small tree and the “V” that held that goat is gone.
Pelican Pier at sunset with a bucket of Brights!
Sunsets at Bunker Bar
LG Smith Steakhouse, Paddock
Thanks for bringing some of my childhood memories back today, when life was indeed simple and carefree. We should all take a moment to reflect on our childhood memories and not get lost in the hustle and bustle of this fast paced life of adulthood, even if it is just for a short moment each day.