As a child my summers were stuffed with moments that time has since tried to extinguish. Though I vividly remember an old thorn tree humbled next to a tall wild apple. They stood alone between two fields on the Southside of an engorged pond.
The branches intertwined like a Celtic knot as they grew back into the ground, creating a dome. The sun peeked through the branches like a kaleidoscope on the dirt. Swirling rays of light danced as the clouds would cover. Their roots raised up out of the earth like serpents. The wild apple was struck by lightning years before, forever marking its enchantments. Its long crippled branch stretched across the underbelly of our secret hiding place, a scar from the vicious storm.
Black raspberry bushes huddled around the outside of the imagination sanctuary as if awaiting our show. Draping grape vines and morning glories suffocated reality whenever we were inside. This amazing place my younger brother Diman and I had named Sinopia.
Waking up at the crack of dawn, grabbing up a few strange necessities and usually forgetting shoes, we would hustle up to Sinopia. We had our dogs and each other. We made small baskets out of the vines, strange chairs out of whatever vegetation was around, and booby-traps. We collected the fruits that surrounded us making feasts of berries, apples and peppermint. Fueling us for adventure.
Jewelweed grew around the Northside of Sinopia. It was an excellent alarm to warn us of an invasion. Exploding with movement, the small pods would burst, sending us into action. As our dogs walked around the border of our hideout, we pretended dragons were near. The dragons were trained and mastered by the fairies which, contrary to popular belief, were evil. They were imagined by us, to be poplar tree puffs that would float through the air clinging to the wind for dear life. Scurrying up the trees and down around behind the lightning log, we would throw rocks and apples, defending our utopia.
The fairies spied on us for the witches. All witches were shape shifters. We would have to keep an eye on everything to assure ourselves that nothing had moved or changed. Witches could morph into any critter or tree of our imaginary contrivance. Though typically witches were locusts, screaming into the hot August sun as we drove them back into the hedge.
Fearless and brave, all childhood insecurities were lost. Defending a place that was our world. We took advantage of every sound or movement nature could give us. Creating a situation that we had to explore or defend.
When our neighbor Bob would plow up or bail the field, we would hide in our mystical enclosure and pretend a neighboring Kingdom was invading. Sounding a silent alarm, we would frantically rush to our posts. I, high in the wild apple tree and my brother camouflaged in a cloak of weeds, awaited on high alert. Bob would smile and laugh as he plowed with his strong John Deere over our apples that we tossed yards in front of the tractor.
Sinopia overlooked a pond that beautifully overgrew the dedicated plot given to it. Catching frogs and snakes would sometimes distract us from the fact that trolls hid beneath the dock stalking our every move. We would often swim to cool our filthy skin, running and leaping off the dock through the sky. The freedom of summer was overwhelming.
Pretending the overflow of the pond was a deep moat around our Kingdom of Sinopia, we built gigantic dams. Our cousins would come over sometimes, jumping right in, never skipping a beat. Adding their own twist to our journey for the day.
Like most fairytales in every story we'd live, we would conquer evil and good would prevail. We were saddened when the day would begin to submit to the inevitable. The sun would retreat over the valley ending our escapade. We would be guided home by the magical glowing wisps known to the ordinaries (grownups) as fireflies.
Escorted by our dogs past the pond, through the fields, across the old dirt roads to our home. We would fall asleep and dream of what was to come, impatiently awaiting sunrise.
Ivory Fishgold is a Sinclairville resident. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org