Yeah, just like Alice, except I was called Angie growing up. Then again, my brothers decided to nickname me, Little Arthur. Why? Who knows! It did start with an A and I was pretty little (for a little sister that is), all of eight years old. I’m kinda fond of it now, but back then it made me madder than a hatter, which is exactly why they called me that.
My brother Lonnie was eighteen months older than me and my oldest brother Jay was three years older than me. Lonnie discovered the rabbit hole one day when he was (can you guess?) chasing a rabbit when it darted out of sight. It disappeared in a fluff of tail. We were all fascinated to find this gem of a passage hidden at the edge of our front yard. We stood and pondered it for a long while – trying to get brave enough to enter the land of no return. Where did it go? And what awaited us down there?
We lived on a street that dead ended, in a country community outside of Ada, Oklahoma called Pickett. This place was probably home to under a thousand people. It boasted a school and mini mart. No traffic lights at all. About five miles away was the “big” town (featured in John Grisham’s An Innocent Man – notoriously that is). Ada, home of Blake Shelton, and approximately twenty thousand other not as talented folks. I still remember from town to our house, we crossed three bridges until our street, just past the last bridge on the left.
The last crossing was over the biggest river. The tale (true or not I still don’t know, nor will I ever) entertained that this particular stretch of river was home to vicious water moccasins and a thirty foot long Alligator Gar (or was it fifty?). An Alligator Gar is both Alligator and Fish, in other words, a BIG MOUTH with lots of teeth in a long alligator jaw that swims with its big FISH TAIL. It lives in the water among the cotton mouth snakes swimming and hunting for prey – like little tasty girls. This scared the willies out of me. I stayed well away from that river and was even on edge when crossing the bridge. How the boys fished there? I’ll never know. I think they wanted to catch that Alligator Gar and become legends.
In case you haven’t figured it out….we lived very rurally. Like I said, at the end of the street, literally, our driveway was the end of the road. In front, and to the right of the road was deep woods. Virtually impassable on the right side, although we tried many times but the brush was just too thick. Forward from the driveway/road, a forest of trees, but these were more sparse, with a pathway that led to a mostly dry riverbed. You could get all through the woods via the riverbed and never get lost. There were turtles, snakes, and HUGE spiderwebs. At the time, none of that bothered me in the least. I grew up with brothers, right? I got my ewww on a few years later when my tomboy days ended.
We spent endless hours in those woods stomping all around, discovering nature, dirt, and hide and seek at it’s best. Seriously, can hide and seek get any trickier than in the woods?
But the rabbit hole was something special. More special than climbing the Oak Tree in the front yard, reaching the tippy top just as a gust of wind bent the thin branch clenched in tight fingers, threatening to blast your grasp and drop perilously to the bottom.
More special than walking the field behind the house where more snakes lived than in the woods probably because they feasted on the mice. I swore I heard rattler tails.
Even more special than the spacious back deck where you could play with your camper Barbie vehicle like they were REALLY camping, because – well – they were.
It was even more special than trekking behind the field past the blackberry bushes to the cow pond for a dip. Just don’t get in a mud fight with your brothers because you might find out later – that wasn’t MUD.
Yes, the rabbit hole was the escape and the refuge. It was a magical place to enter. The tunnel was just about the right size for me to crouch down inside. It then dropped to a canopy room that was delightful; covered and hidden. I imagined many tea parties there with a certain busy rabbit. The back portal led to our favorite part of the trail descending to the river bed. Funny I could never find that entrance from the other side, I could ONLY get there through the rabbit hole.
Growing up country was dirty, free, and enchanting. I’ll never forget my favorite hang out – the rabbit hole – with some soft hopping friends that I hope didn’t mind my intrusion.
My favorite childhood memory? The many adventures in our all natural playground. Maybe that’s why I am so carefree as an adult. Maybe that’s why I love geo caching and discovering new treasures. Maybe that rabbit hole opened our minds to endless possibilities as we courageously sought new paths. Or maybe…..growing up in the Oklahoma dirt? Wasn’t so bad after all.