Posted by: Peadar Ban | October 18, 2019

All The Way To China, Pt. 2

In our last Chapter we learned that the trip to China via a “chunnel” dug right through the earth by Josef and yours truly was postponed until a team of scientists could check out the hole for more T-Rex fossils.  Since then, I understand that Hollywood, where fantasy is fact, has been thinking about a reprise of the 1935 Gene Autry serial “Phantom Earth” and want to begin work as soon as the paleontological team of renowned Scientists and Diggers packs up and leavesIt should be good, especially now that Gene himself is  dead and has been so for some time, gore being a major ingredient of anything with holes in the ground and stuff like that in movies.  And, things can be done now that were only wild dreams years ago in movie land.

Anyway, after the decision was taken, my friend and I wondered what we should do next, beyond making sure the “site” was not disturbed further.  Putting our heads together, and realizing that we had a lot of “digging” equipment in good working order within reach, we both felt it necessary that “digging”, an activity so popular with males from five to somewhere near eighty. should figure into our decision.

We thought for a long time, at least a minute, and remembered that we had, during the early summer begun to build ourselves a house…house building being another wonderful way to fill a boy’s day…in the woods on the other side of the ball field, between it and the stadium; a long ignored and derelict mass of weeds, tumbling trees, swampy lowlands, bugs, and the occasional wandering monsters, lions, tigers, dinosaurs and bears.  It looked as if it had been planned at one point to be a little shaded sanctuary for folks on a much more quiet disposition than wild “house building”, “all the way to China digging” young boys and their tag alongs.

It had seen better days, I am sure of that, and was now fenced in by a fence whose own life had seen better days, too.  Else how would we have been able to access its hidden wonders.  So, there we went, having put together a mass of tools which would be the envy of any construction crew from here to New Orleans.

My friend, I have learned, much prefers running to walking.  That is what he did, instantly, as soon as the new project was proposed and agreed on.  He ran to get his wheelbarrow, returning with it.  “Poor wheelbarrow,” I thought when I saw the sorry thing.  It had a wheel to be sure, but, it’s “barrow” needed surgery, life restoring surgery.

Nevertheless, what I saw wasn’t seen by anyone else of the “builders”, and the device was soon loaded with all the necessary equipment. What went into it would have been just a bit more than enough for a dump truck on its way to a real construction site.

Well, never mind.  It was, of course, not the only wheelbarrow.  After my weak objection to the amount of equipment we were going to bring on our expedition in this crumble, Josef pointed out another “wheelbarrow” not much bigger than a decent casserole dish…with wheels, of course…that would be mine.  This I refused to consider.  When I dropped to my knees to show him how far I would have to go to move the thing, and how little it would carry anyway, my friend agreed that it was less that perfect for the work and cheerfully told me to carry what he had originally wanted me to push, on my knees, which included his father’s spade.

We settled on a longish toy spade and its companion toy rake, and I gave thanks that no one I knew would see me.  Oh, and the toy rake was mostly a bunch of tangled and bent tines at the business end.  Nevertheless, it fit the boyish definition of tool.

Thus outfitted we began our trek to “The Swamp”, Josef’s preferred name for our destination.

To reach The Swamp from the house, it is necessary to cross an open field that is used for baseball and football, finding worms, chasing birds and, one of the little kids greatest pleasures, making designs with feet, bikes, sticks, fingers and anything, really, every time the fellows in the Parks and Recreation Department come by and combed out the last set of ornate designs in the just combed-out base paths.  With great delight, as we got near to the base paths, we discovered they had recently been combed and polished, and were ready for our depredations.  How nice, I thought, that word rhymes so closely with decorations.  It was exactly the word Josef used cautioning me not to destroy the work he was at that moment engaged in on the smooth and waiting sand.

Going back and forth, turning and twisting across the virgin sand, anyone of a certain age, mine, his, might feel as our ancient fathers might have felt in the caves, in Lascaux or Altamira; or facing the untouched cliffs deep in Australia.  Well, not really.  I think of that now.  Then, I felt as if I was five years old and simply having fun.  And, “Fun”, is the best thing to have, at any age.

Warning each other not to step on our designs we continued for several minutes strolling and scrolling across, around and back again on the base paths.  Then we headed for “The Swamp”.  And found the gates locked!  Some “suit” downtown had probably ordered the gaping holes in the fence gates repaired and the biggest locks in town affixed.  Josef, and our equipment managed to make it through.  But, I was not able to squeeze inthrough the thin custom squeezing room for five year olds.  The trolls at headquarters might not have thought of little boys and their joys.  But they certainly had me in mind.

He suggested I climb over the fence, and I tried to tell him the reasons I thought that would not work.  Picture an elephant telling a squirrel he was not equipped to climb the tree.

But, there was another gate!  So, having restored all the tools and Josef to the wrong side of the fence, we set off to give that a look.  And were soon disappointed.  In a rare, I thought, burst of attention to details, the Fence Department had done for us completely.  This one was closed tighter than Fort Knox.

Josef did not want to give up, but, I was not to be moved from going back.  He even argued that his father would not mind if we climbed over the fence.  Once again I explained that his father might indeed mind if he climbed over, under or through the fence and I simply sat and read a book on the other side; for there was no way I was going to try fence climbing twice in one day.  Besides, by that time I had most of the equipment and was on the way back.

He came along.  Soon, though, The Swamp and its darned fence was forgotten.  With all the equipment we had we could start a farm between the service road and the fence at the back of his property.  And that was the very idea that occurred to him.  He found the best spot to do it, too.  Dropping to the ground just off the driveway he started preparing the place for planting; which with five year old boys may be done at any time of the year.  This I know from my own experience as a five year old boy.

Soon, though, a search for spiders in the weeds took precedence.  I would like to tell you we were quite successful, but, alas, the spiders must have a good signalling system.  We left without another pile of pets.  The rest of our afternoon we spent bike riding.  I watched, politely turning down the offer of his father’s bike, while he rode along the quiet service road.  We went to the playground nearby, and even tried our hand at completing the decorations in the base path, especially pleased with the way the bike’s tire tracks looked.

And, then, not much more needing to be done with me, we went back home.  My last sight of him was my friend going lickety-split up the stairs and disappearing into the house as I tried walking after him…slowly.










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