From Pipi’s Pasture: Using our imaginations
A while back, someone asked me if I had any ideas for children’s play that didn’t involve electronics. So that inspired me to think back to the days when my siblings and I were growing up on the ranch. All of our play involved the imagination.
Imagination is a wonderful thing. It’s always there, it doesn’t require batteries, and you don’t have to worry about it getting broken. In our earlier growing up days, we didn’t even have electricity at the ranch so there wasn’t any television. We used a battery-operated radio to listen to the news and a few entertainment programs—not a lot because we conserved the battery. So we depended on our imaginations.
For example, one of our favorite summer activities was to pretend that we were going shopping. On a hot summer day, much like it is now, we hopped in our pretend car, the front steps of our house. Someone sat on the bottom step and “drove,” and the others rode “in back.” We stopped off at pretend stores where we bought groceries and other stuff.
We walked past Mom’s flower beds where we window-shopped for dresses. We pretended that the pink and white peonies were ball gowns. Likewise, the California poppies, daisies, hollyhocks, and dozens of other flowers became dresses.
Sometimes we took our dolls outdoors with us but not often because we were afraid something would happen to them. More often we found a tame cat, dressed him or her in doll clothes, including a bonnet, and put him in the doll buggy. We pushed him around while we “shopped.” The cat was quite content to play along but eventually got tired of the game, jumped out of the buggy, and ran off. We had to chase him down to retrieve the doll clothes.
During the summer we enjoyed playing in our make believe houses in the thicket of chokecherry, serviceberry, and oak trees that grew just behind our house. There are lots of big rocks in the brush up at Morapos — it must have been some job to clear the land when ranchers settled there — and so our outdoor playhouses had tables and chairs. We used cans and throwaway pans for our dishes — never our good doll dishes. Big leaves were turned into plates and sticks into silverware. Sometimes we made mud pies and let them dry on the rock tables. We pretended to fish in the nearby ditch, bringing home stick fish that we “fried up.”
We played “cowboys” at the corral, too. It was a favorite game when other kids came to visit because then we could designate a sheriff and deputies and even bandits. The bad guys were caught and “locked up” in the springer barn — a long shed that served as the maternity ward for cows in early spring. We had stick horses, but even more fun was to climb up on the saddles that were hung up on ropes in the barn. We could imagine we were racing away.
The imagination is a wonderful gift!