Wild Violet

comments: 62




















Despite the sleep deprivation, I can hardly wait for the mornings to come: the birds, the clear light, the glow, the green, the birds, the baby talking — ba ba, na na, ma ma, mum ma, DA?!? [screams and points]. "Buuuuur-DEE?" Ba ba na. "Dawg?" She's the original uptalker. It's the sweetest music, all of it. The dogs race for balls in the dog park near our house. High above the baseball diamond the trees burst forth in sprays of green, each one a different shade. It's ridiculously picturesque. Trees like an oil painting of trees. There's a tree-lined path straight through the middle of the park, like a colonnade. We saunter it each morning, listening to the birds, talking to the sun and flowers. Slow, slow. Stay like this, just here. Growing up, I lived one house away from a huge park. A school-yard. My school. Gravel fields. A backstop. A giant swing set — they probably don't even make them that tall anymore. One time I jumped off and wiped out and screamed so loudly my dad heard me in our house. Towering oak trees. Sand pits. The tall chain-link fence surrounding the whole lot, way off in the distance. The railroad embankment covered in ivy and phlox. The scruffy baseball diamond, the single splintered bench per side. The giant brick wall (the side of the school gym) against which my sister and I hit a million tennis balls (I was good, she was great). The cracked and peeling hopscotch board. The four-square boxes. The rusty basketball hoop on its tilted pole. The crabapple tree where my neighbor Hali and I spent an entire afternoon singing "Rhinestone Cowboy." The bridal veil bushes. The outfield toward which I boinged sharp little rocks with my new tennis racket — they flew like rubberbands — until a string broke, which shocked and worried me so badly — I'd just gotten the racket that day, after a long wait — I wanted to run away from home. The park was always so incredibly empty, except for us. No one besides us neighborhood kids ever played there when school was out. No parents ever went there. Mine could sometimes see us from our house, if they looked, but no adults ever "went to the park" with any of us, and we wouldn't have wanted that. We went outside after dinner and we came home when the streetlights came on. Every single night. Lightning bugs and hosta flowers. The smell of the mosquito spray belched out by giant trucks that came to fog the neighborhood in the worst mostquito years (good lord). Humidity so thick you were always damp. Lawns green and thick and long. If we were going to go in someone's house, one of us ran home to tell our parents, and then we still kept an eye on the streetlights, and left when they came on. Oh, the wild suburban spaces we roamed. The overgrown backyards and train embankments and far, shady corners of forgotten spaces behind the Prescotts' potting shed. Things were so different then. The park in River Forest is a fancy park now. I sat in it and cried a little the last time I was home. I was crying about lots of things, but a little bit for the park. The school is gone and the fence is gone and the gravel and buckling asphalt are gone and it's a lovely, green, well-manicured, shady, beautiful, fancy playground with perfect grass and cedar chips and swirly slides and safety swings. It belongs to people from all the surrounding streets, not just ours. An obvious improvement, of course. But. I wonder if the kids on our old block still play alone in it every night the way we did. I wonder where my dearest little sweetest wild violet will run wild.


Heartsdesire says: April 19, 2014 at 10:50 AM

How lucky we were to be able to spend that time outdoors, in the park, riding around on our bikes, playing baseball until the streetlights came on, not a care in the world. Unfortunately, that time has past. Things have changed. Not sure if it's for the better. Things were so innocent then. Hoping your sweet little violet (Mimi) will have a wonderful place to play when she grows a little older like we did.

I remember playing outside until it was dark. We would skate around the block, ride our bikes, walked in the muddy gutters after the sprinklers had watered the front lawn. It was easy back then. We could play outside. My father was in the military and we lived in military housing so we always had a lot of kids to play with. My son grew up in a neighborhood with a bunch of kids his age and he was able to ride hot wheels, bikes, play ball and all sorts of outside activities. I hope your wild violet will get to experience some of what you described. She is getting so big and adorable.

It sounds like you had an ideal childhood. I grew up in McMinnville, Oregon and the neighbor kids and I were so wild and free. In the summers we would pack a lunch and head out on our bikes to the creeks and "spook woods" to dream up scary stories or grab crawdads out of Baker Creek. There was a "city" park behind the swimming pool where we crawled through a culvert to the other side where we were sure they'd be a magical garden. We played hide and seek til it got dark.. and even later. Good times.

❀.•❤•.✿.•❤ Happy Easter! ❀.•❤•.✿.•❤
((hugs)), Teresa :-)

You have brought to mind my memories.... We lived 3 doors from a Lutheran College Campus... Augustana College, by name. Our little neighborhood group spent countless hours running the entire length and breadth of the space... And as you were required, we had to be home when the streetlights came on... We could be gone for hours, and my mother never worried...she knew our hunger would drive us home... Thank you for jogging me back to those years...
Val in Kansas

Wow! You really brought me back with this post. I grew up in a small town, and I'm happy to say not much has changed there. It's a wonderful ache in the heart, the nostalgia that you brought about this morning.

Read the Atlantic article, "The Overprotected Kid," if you haven't already. It speaks beautifully to this sense of wild freedom kids still need, whether we give it to them anymore or not.

Such fun memories. I have similar ones of chasing and hiding games, never playing indoors during summer, how dull that would have been. We played 'secret agent' (I'm a bit older than you) and 'red rover' ending the day with a hot bath, then slipping into fresh jammies and cool sheets.
I'm sure your little 'wild violet' will have many stories to tell her own babies someday and they'll include stories of the good old days, just like yours :)

Love hearing about a slice of your childhood! Also enjoying the sweet pics of your daughter, and they remind me of the drawings of Eloise Wilkin (if you aren't familiar check it out you'll love her). Thanks for sharing and Happy Easter!

As I gather with my family for the weekend, this brings back all of my wonderful childhood memories. My brother and I had very similar spaces to play and explore.

p.s. I bought the exact same fabric last week. The pretty little flowers were my demise at the craft store. ;) I'm going to make a summer tank for myself.

Thank you for your constant inspiration throughout the seasons of your family life.

My childhood was deliciously free too. Physical freedom is vital, YES! The liberty to dream is as essential and one of the greatest gifts we may offer our children.

Happy Easter to you all.

I love how you tapped into your own memories and gave them to us via a bit of stream-of-consciousness. "We was wild then."


One of the most difficult things for me as a mama was to confront the fact that my girls' would never have a childhood like mine (much like yours) -- not because I wouldn't send them out there to play, but because nobody else would send their kids out there. The street I grew up on, not too too far from you now, is empty every summer we visit. Not one kid. The telephone pole that served as home base every night till it was too dark to see it is now just that, a telephone pole. I try to tell my girls about those nights but they don't see it because they've never seen kids play like we did. It's a grieving process, for sure.

just beautiful.....i have similar memories but in a Brit way!!!...my kids (now 33 &35) have similar memories of their childhood...as i am sure my grandchildren will have too....you may think a lot changes but does it really?..its just an adults perception that alters..your sweet violet will have her own tales to tell!!

Why do pictures of daddies and little girls break my heart open? Precious days.

These are lovely photos and lovely words. Made me remember my own childhood days playing under the street lamp, and sad for our kids that this wont be their memories, most likely. But we can do our best to give them treasures to think back fondly on as well!

I'm just going to save this post for days when I need a little cheering up Lovely. The pictures are so beautiful and your garden is just amazing. I'd love to sit there and sip some tea with my knitting any day of the week. ♥

You are at least 1 month ahead of me..the poppy heads..clematis..
Be still my beating heart.
I love that girl:)
Happy Easter..!

How blissful it sounds Alicia. When the time is right your little one will find her freedom and her friends, although maybe not in quite the same way. But it will still be idyllic.

It's been so different, with my daughter (age 16 now), than it was in my own small-town midwestern childhood, but we've still found ways and places for her to run wild safely, even in this mixed-up modern world. There's still a lot of "wild" out there, open and free and beckoning.

We all run wild in our hearts and our memories. Good memories can run us wild a long, long time.

I just love your pictures!

reading your words makes me wistful and hopeful. and seeing your photos makes me want to hug my kids, and yours too! oh my gosh she is precious. happy easter dear alicia and family.

Read the Atlantic article, "The Overprotected Kid," if you haven't already. It speaks beautifully to this sense of wild freedom kids still need, whether we give it to them anymore or not....

Your story today brings back so many memories and I remind myself how lucky we are, being settled in Switzerland of all places. Our place is still a safe playground. My children walk to school on their own. They do play on the cow fields around us and climb the apple tress coming home with scratches and torn trousers and dress linings.

My children ride their bikes around the village and they have water fights on the streets by the fountains in summer. They go on forest adventures and play hide and seek in the quarters.

I never need to worry, although we have had times when the children have been delayed from an adventure further away from home than usual... Those times hold me in a terror grip still. Reminding me how today's society is different, after all, from what it use to be. That even if I say we live a safe life and that I don't worry, I know it is not all true. The Swiss country side might be a bit like going back in time 30-40 years, but it is also a society of 2014 with all the modern infra structure, crimes and living...

We do our best to raise our children in safety and freedom and I do feel we are lucky to live right here right now. It is not just like it was when I was a young girl but not far from it. I wouldn't have it any other way. But saying that things would have been different if destiny had placed on in a different location... In America, big city or so. Then I would probably not let my children out of sight, I would car pool everywhere and supervise every step in a park. And saying all that I do wish that even if it was like that I would manage to let go from fear and control just a little bit for the little ones to experience some modern type of childhood freedom. Finding their own paths and magic places in the neighborhood... I am sure your little pumpkin will do all that in her own little way.
My Rose Valley

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About Alicia Paulson


My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at aliciapaulson.com




Since August of 2011 I've been using a Canon EOS 60D with an EF 18-200mm kit lens and an EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro lens.