One Saturday, when I was probably about 9 years old, my family went to visit my mother's cousin and her family in Janesville, Wisconsin.
It was a perfect early summer day. We arrived about mid-morning at my cousin's farm. Being from the suburbs of Chicago, it was enormously exciting to my brother and me to be on a farm! Cousin Betty Sue's children surrounded us and offered to show us around.
I remember there were pigs. I had always imagined pigs to be shiny pink and was surprised to see the huge hogs that were black and white with dirty skin. We hung on the fence and watched the hogs root around in the pig-pen. Growing bored with that, the cousins wanted us to come into the barn and climb on the hay bales. The barn was two stories and we leaned out the second story window looking down into the pig-pen. I remember jumping into the pen, but that seems crazy now. Could we really have done that? Perhaps we climbed down a ladder from the barn into the pen. My 5 year old brother thought it was great fun - but then he always loved playing in the dirt.
It wasn't long until it was time for lunch. We had sloppy joes for the first time. I thought that was the most delicious lunch ever.
After lunch, we decided to go bike riding. I can't remember how many cousins went (there were 7 of them). I do know the oldest, Patty, graciously lent me her bike and stayed home. My brother stayed home, too, to play in the dirt some more with Little Arthur, whom he called "lil Arfner."
Looking back, I don't know if it was really that beautiful or just the memory of that day has become embellished in my mind. It seemed as if the blue sky was the bluest it had ever been as we rode bikes up and down country roads. The grass was so green and the white clouds so fluffy. We came upon a bridge when Jackie (the cousin closest to my age) said, "let's stop and catch minnows." We laid our bikes down on the grass and went underneath the bridge to splash and play in the water.
The sun shone on the ripples on the water like golden beams! The air felt perfect. The water was just the right temperature. It was like ... heaven on earth.
That's the last thing I remember - playing in the water. I can't remember about going back home. For some reason, we never went there to visit again.
It's been forty something years ago since that day, yet I'll never forget it. There's a song by the Sandpipers that was popular in my teens called "Come Saturday Morning." The first verse goes:
Come Saturday morning
I'm goin' away with my friend
We'll Saturday-spend 'til the end of the day-ay
Just I and my friend
We'll travel for miles in our Saturday smiles
And then we'll move on
But we will remember
Long after Saturday's gone
Every time I hear that song, I'm transported back to that creek in Janesville, Wisconsin. I can see the sun shining on the waters and feel the care-free joy of being a child.
It's one of my most precious memories and I can't help but feel that perhaps in just a very small way it's a tiny glimpse of what heaven might be like.
What about you? Do you have any special memories of childhood? Please share!