Imagine being about six or seven years old and, while visiting your country grandparents, being told that everyone is going for a picnic “to the creek” waaaay out in the back 40 (acres) and that you are getting there in the old hay wagon hitched up to the horses! Of the many childhood memories stored in my head, this is one I hope to never forget.
This wasn’t olden times, it was in the early sixties (ok, olden times for some of you). Anyway, grandpa had hitched up his two working farm horses to his very old and still useful hay wagon with the buckboard seat and the giant wheels. Mom and grandma had prepared a feast of food and drink, though I honestly can’t remember everything about the dining service. Ha!
What I do remember is the thrill of it all, the adventure we were on. That particular event, one of many childhood memories, is what prompted me to paint Picnic Creek which wasn’t close to trees, but… well, it’s that “artistic license” thing and there are no photos from that day.
Continuing With the Story
We pulled out, the whole family in the wagon with grandpa driving, past the big wood gate, and headed down the dirt road cut between the woods which led us to the miles of open land where the cows roamed. First stop. The “horse pond”. Every pond on the farm had it’s own name. Grandpa made us all to about wet our respective pants when he got the horses to pull the wagon out into a low part of the water. My eyes must have been the size of saucers (flying saucers). We were sure that we were going to get stuck. Grandma thought so too and was fussing at Grandpa. Grandpa, with reins in hand, was laughing like a schoolkid having pulled a prank. He was having a great time. Luckily for us, we didn’t sink into the mud or the boys and my dad were sure enough going to get wet helping to get us unstuck.
From there, the our picnic party slowly blazed a path through high growing field grasses, through barbed wire gates at fence lines, past totally indifferent cows (it wasn’t their adventure), past the occasional groups of wildflowers and blackberry bushes to our final destination under a beautiful blue Oklahoma sky. The creek! We were at the creek! For a picnic! Now I really was about to wet my pants… from excitement.
This creek had probably been flowing though this part of the landscape since the time of the native Americans who once lived in the area. You could easily imagine their presence, even as a kid. It was a little slice of paradise and we made the most of it. The water was only about knee high and there was a shallow area, only a few inches deep, where it lazily flowed over incredibly smooth rocks. This smooth area became our playground. My brothers and I waded in the water, we sat in the water, we slid on the rocks, we splashed, we looked for tadpoles, we practically burst with happiness. Probably one of the few family outings where we didn’t wind up irritating the heck out of each other… and our parents. What an incredible day to look back on even if every detail isn’t there as I float back in time to remember it.
I hope you too have childhood memories of happy, incredible days and that you continue to remember them.