Learning to hold a blade of grass between her thumbs so she can blow across it and make a marvelous sound.

In the cool of the evening my husband and I often sit on the front porch steps. We chat lazily, watch Thistle poke around, and wave at passing cars.  It’s a very Appalachian-summer thing to do. Of course, if we were kids, we’d be up and off the steps taking advantage of what a fabulous playground the front yard supplies.

Summers on the farm meant being outside. There were endless yard games with siblings and cousins–all kinds of tag, Simon Says, and made up games with ever-changing rules. We generally played barefoot and would get all sweaty and breathless then there would be that prickling feeling as the sweat dried and the cool of the evening settled in. Mom sometimes only washed our filthy feet before bed. I think the prospect of bathing three tired children helped her prioritize.

Of course, we also caught fireflies and stowed them in Mason jars with holes punched in the lids. We were occasionally allowed to bring these in to flicker in our rooms as we drifted off to sleep. When the June bugs came, we’d sometimes tie a thread to a leg (a tricky job) and have a bug on a leash.

Then there were all the things you could do with what grew in the yard. Pinch a blade of grass between your thumbs and blow on it to make a wonderful, honking sound. Tie flowers together to make chains for your hair and neck. Chew on sweet clover.

It was easier in those days to be drawn outside. There were only two or three channels on TV, no video games or electronics, and even toys paled in comparison to the wide world of summer outside the door. I sometimes see neighbor children outside on summer days and it makes me glad. Maybe I’ll stop by and show them how to tie flowers together, how to blow on a blade of grass–these are skills worthy of being passed on.