Thursday, March 14, 2013


It's not there anymore, but there once was an idyllic woodland kingdom right behind my house.

We moved to rural Florida many years ago.  Dad had declared that no children of his were going to roam the streets of a sub-division any more, so he found a perfect little acreage in a rural place called Darby.  Darby was so small that only a few maps would show it.  It was really more of a community because there was no town square, not even a post office.

For the first time ever, we rode the bus to school.  We were so far out that it took over an hour, one way, to get to the school in a nearby town.  The kids on the bus proudly informed us that we were from DARBY, FL, and we were different from those kids that lived in town.

It's funny now, looking back, but we really were a community.  We all knew each other and stood up for one another in school. Our little church was really the only central focus of the community, but you didn't have to be a regular attender to be accepted. It seemed like the only qualification to be a Darbyite was to be a neighbor ...

But I digress.

The point of this little post was to describe the woodland kingdom.  Our house was situated at the end of a little dirt lane.  Behind our house were orange groves that seemed to go on forever. 

Except for a piece of ground directly behind our house that had once been cleared of fruit trees.  It looked like someone had once lived there.  A foundation of a porch  left.  Some weird circular fenced in areas, some of them large - perhaps ponies had been kept there?  Kudzu had grown and covered the fencing making it a lush green wonderland.  Shade trees dotted the property arrayed in Spanish moss. Best of all, a creek meandered through the property and on through the acres of groves.

Creek Similar to Childhood Creek

My brother and I considered it heaven.  Who wants to wander the streets of sub-divisions when you could play in the woods and splash in the creek all day?  When the groves were filled with orange blossoms, it smelled like sweet perfumed ambrosia.  I guess I miss the fragrance most of all ...

No one ever seemed to be around the property, or even in the groves for that matter.  We felt like it was ours.  I, of course, had to give it a name and christened it Darbyland.

On our own property, a giant tree so happened to have a rude kind of tree house built into it that faced the woods.  We turned it into a fort, or watchtower to look over Darbyland and the groves. It was a wonderful place to go as a kid and make up all kinds of stories and just enjoy being outside.

As girls do, I began to grow out of playing there and visiting the tree house.  Darbyland became a thing of the past for me.  A terrible killing frost came years later and all the groves were cut down.  The land then became "developed"  and became of all things .... a sub-division!

I have no photos of our woodland playground.  But in my mind, I can visit Darbyland any time I wish.

Mama’s Losin’ It

This post was written in response to Writer's Workshop prompt 1.) What do you miss most about your childhood neighborhood?  You can link up at Kathy's blog, Mama's Losin' It.


Monica @ M double M said...

I grew up playing amongst trees and creeks too, and I'm quite convinced there is nothing better at that age! Darbyland sounds magical. It's too bad it's no longer there.

Banker Chick said...

It sounds like it was a wonderful childhood, in Darbyland.

B Nickerson said...

What a wonderful description! I grew up in a rural woodland in Indiana of thick forest with a creek running thru it. And I know all about the long bus ride to school, too. Thx for sharing such precious memories!

Jazzmin said...

Darbyland truly does sound like heaven!! This is such a cozy, beautiful, nostalgic post! I loved reading it so much- I think every childhood should be spent somewhere like this instead of in cities of pavement... your description sort of reminds me of Bridge to Terabithia.

Have a blessed day!

Sorta Southern Single Mom said...

I wrote about the same prompt (as you know) but you reminded me of the woods behind my grandmother's house in which we used to roam as children. It's been purchased and marked posted and while not developed yet, my own children are not allowed back there. :-(


I grew up in Florida....we had citrus trees in our back yard...and yes...the smell is amazing. My fort was under the leaves and branches of a large grapefruit tree. My home (which was in a neighborhood....not a are all the rest. It is as if I never existed. FAU has made my neighborhood into a sports complex. The first time I went back after the houses were all gone...I sat on the corner of what was my street....and squalled like a baby.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a wonderful place to grow up :)

Visiting from Mama Kat's!