Life keeps rolling along

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 9, 2014

We called them the “big” hill and the “little” hill. They were on the right side of our house if you faced East Park Avenue and on the left side if you faced the backyard.

The bottom of the big hill touched Henley Street beside our house and the little hill ended at the driveway behind the house. This was prime rolling property when I was growing up.

Some afternoons you could find a pile of kids from all over the neighborhood sitting at the top of one or the other of the hills. Then a mysterious urge sent them careening down the slope in various positions. It was great fun.

My favorite rolling position was a tight ball, knees pulled into the chest. It allowed for maximum speed. Our friend, Jim, might stick his feet behind his head and roll down, something that brought Ooos and Ahhs of amazement from the rest of us. His brother, Charlie, usually watched and laughed.

Patrick, another friend from down the street, had what he called his “Lassie dog” position. It was a regular kind of roll that ended with feet and arms sticking up in the air, kind of like a dog lying on its back.

If I felt unusually brave, I toppled forward feet over head down to the bottom. Of course, we had to be extra careful if we were on the big hill because Mother was constantly yelling, “don’t get in the street.”

For a time, we had a big metal barrel painted with bright stripes of color on the outside. I don’t know where it came from, but it served many purposes. It might be a cave or a submarine depending on the make believe story we created.

You could also curl yourself into a ball inside the barrel and let a brother push it down the hill. Mostly we did this on the little hill because there we no brakes to stop it from going right out into the street on the big hill side. It only took one time of Mother seeing that happen for us to be restricted to the backyard for the rest of the afternoon.

I remember there was rust on around the inside of the barrel, which created some rather jagged edges. It’s a wonder we didn’t tear all the hide off ourselves bouncing around inside that thing. Guess that is proof the good Lord protects kids who do stupid things that could be dangerous.

The top of both hills met in the yard beside the house and right in the center there was a big mimosa tree. Many tea parties with select friends, dolls and teddy bears took place under that tree. Some days, I sat propped against the trunk and watched the boys playing on the hills instead of rolling myself.

Last week when I was at Mother’s house, I walked down the driveway to where it meets Henley Street and paused looking at the yard where that mimosa tree once stood. I laughed remembering all those days playing on those two “hills.” They seemed so tall when I was smaller, now to my grown self they hardly look like hills at all.

There are azalea bushes along the top of the bigger hill and a line of thick monkey grass at the bottom of the smaller one. That creates a barrier should I decide to see if rolling down a grassy hill is still as much fun as I remember. (Now that would be a picture for Facebook).

What occurred to me as I stood there reminiscing was how life and our perspective on things is always changing. Hills look smaller as we get taller, and summer days that seem endless get so much shorter as we grow older.

So, I guess the message for me is never to take one minute for granted because life flies by as quickly as a painted barrel rolling down a hill.