In less than a two-minute walk, I can go from my back door, to the pumpkin patch, to the most magical, wonderful place of my childhood, and still one of my favorite places today: the nicely wooded, shallow creek in my backyard. This creek is where I believe my love for the outdoors began.
I spent countless hours of my childhood summers down in that creek, climbing trees, building bridges and forts, catching frogs and minnows, and making things out of the clay that I would scoop up from the rocky bottom. In the winter, I would sled, ice skate, build forts into the snow drifts, and go on snowmobiling adventures with my dad. From being a young kid all the way to now seventeen-year-old me, I have been completely in awe of nature.
As I got a little older and really interested in animals and science, I would rescue any hurt or motherless animals that I found (including birds with broken wings and a baby snapping turtle that somehow made it all the way up to my driveway). I also caught frog eggs for a few summers and cared for them until they hatched and the tadpoles grew legs; I then released them back into the creek (this was after I learned that a lot of the eggs got eaten and few survived… eight-year-old me was very saddened by that). I think this is where my love for animals began as well.
I have so many great memories in that creek that I wouldn’t trade for the world. Many of these memories took place with my cousin, who would come over and play in the creek with me quite often when we were younger. We would sled, build snow men for snowmobilers to laugh at as they drove by, and even attempted fishing one spring when the water was high…without any luck, though. Somewhere deep beneath the stones is a message in a glass bottle that we buried years ago. When I was twelve, my dad built me a treehouse overlooking both the creek and the pumpkin patch, and so the memories just kept getting better.
To this day, I have never played a Game Boy, I have no idea who the Mario characters are or which Pokémon character is which, because while other kids my age were inside consumed by things like this, I was outside consumed by the great outdoors, and I have no regrets about that whatsoever.
Even though I’m older now and can’t spend every single day down in the creek, I still go out there whenever I can to enjoy nature. I still go on hikes, usually with my cat, Tubby tagging along, and my dad and I still snowmobile on the creek out to the river and bay that it empties into every winter. Whenever I’m stressed out or just need a dose of nature, I still go out and sit in my treehouse and watch the water move by or watch the sunset over the pumpkin patch. And who am I kidding, my friends and I still go down there to sled and throw snow at each other in the winter. I still think that the creek is one of the coolest places ever, just like I did when I was five, and I am still in awe of nature.
I know that not every kid gets to walk out of their back door to see a snapping turtle laying her eggs, a deer eating pumpkins, or hear Eastern Screech Owls trilling to each other. For me, that’s an everyday opportunity, and I am so grateful for that.
This is the place that has gotten me hooked on nature, science, and adventure, and I wouldn’t care about nature nearly as much as I do today without that creek in my backyard. To me, it’s a big deal.
-Marissa Trombley – YCC Member