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More imaginative play

Diane Prather
Pipi's Pasture

This week I’m still thinking about our playtime adventures when my siblings and I were growing up on the ranch at Morapos.

As I wrote last week, we played outside a lot in the summer because it was cooler, and we enjoyed being outside. Besides playing in the ditch that ran through the corral, we spent hours in the main barn and the calving barn. We could climb up into the loft of the barn where the cow was milked, and (in later years) where we fed our 4-H steers. That’s where Dad kept the saddles, too.

When the saddles weren’t in use, Dad hung them from ropes that hung down from the ceiling and had loops on the ends that fit over the saddle horns. There they hung, in midair, and were just the right height for kids to hop aboard. What fun to pretend that we were riding our favorite horses, chasing cows or rustlers.



Sometimes, when neighbor kids or cousins came to visit, we had a great time playing cowboys and robbers/bad guys. Each kid had a job—sheriff, sheriff’s deputy, cowboy hero, bad guy, and others, depending on how many kids were there. The calving shed (also called a springer barn) was the jail. As I recall, we didn’t have realistic play guns, but we were just as happy to pretend that sticks were guns. It was all great fun.

We had our outdoor playhouses, too, that were just openings in a grove of oak, chokecherry, and serviceberry bushes that grew behind the house. I can remember Mom sometimes using an axe to chop away vegetation to give us a bigger playhouse. There are lots of big rocks up at Morapos, and our playhouses had one or more so we imagined these rocks to be tables, stoves, and even beds, although the rock beds were pretty tall and bumpy.

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We never took our dolls outdoors very often for fear that something would happen to them. They were far too precious to us. That went for the doll dishes, too. Instead of using doll dishes we found throwaway pans and even cans that we used to make mud cakes and pies that we flattened out to dry on our rock stoves. When we were finished playing we left everything there for another day.

Sometimes we took or dolls outside into the front yard but only briefly. We pushed them around in a doll buggy as we pretended to “shop” for dresses that were imagined from Mom’s flowers that grew around the yard.

We always had tame outdoor cats that followed us around as we played. Sometimes we petted a cat, and when he was purring we dressed him in doll clothes and put him in the doll buggy instead of a doll. Imagine a cat, covered with a blanket, being pushed around the yard in a buggy. The cat was congenial — for awhile — but eventually he got tired, jumped out of the buggy, and ran off. We had to catch him in order to retrieve our doll dress and bonnet.

There’s nothing like imaginative play.


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