The Mud Pies, Knee Scrapes, And Grass Stains That Formed My Childhood

You won’t be able to tell now, but I used to have knees scraped bloody and arms all scratched up practically every week when I was growing up.

I was never an athletic kid, and most of our playmates from across the street were inclined to choose my older sisters to join their games over me precisely because they knew running around and chasing other people weren’t really my thing.

But that has never protected me from getting my share of cuts and scrapes all over my legs and arms — the kind that you bawl about right after you stop rolling over the dirt and you sit up and catch sight of the bloody streaks and trickles, and then brag about when you’re all cleaned up and bandaged.

My garden, my playground

My father built a thriving garden all around our house. He passed away before I was born, but his garden lived several years more after his demise, and I learned my ABCs while munching on grapes picked from the thick vines that crawled over the terrace where I sat.

I snuck a trowel out of my father’s tool shed, dug up blocks of earth from a corner of the garden, and mixed it with water, leaves and an assortment of rocks to make mud pies and cakes for my mother on her birthday.

I brewed up batches of a “special” liquid using the leaves of the hibiscus plant which we pounded between rocks and mixed with water and a little detergent for blowing bubbles using a piece of wire looped to make a circle.

I picked curious-looking berries from spiny potted plants and squeezed them between my fingers until they burst, before rubbing their clear, sweet-smelling and sticky juice onto my nails for an instant manicure.

I started furiously scribbling (very basic) poetry into a notebook while curled up in a lawn chair while beetles dropped around me from the branches of the surrounding fruit trees.

Down and dirty

Needless to say, letting my imagination run wild in the garden was all the fun I needed — and all the mischief required to produce a scrape or two. Piling up large stones and lining them up for a makeshift yellow brick road resulted in countless trips, falls, nicks and bruises. Attempts to climb fruit trees to see if there were any snacks to be had for the day left me tumbling down on my behind. And later, when puppies and kittens entered the picture, all the horseplay involved in bringing them together left me rolling all over the grass in a fit of giggles, plus stained clothes.

Recreating that simple paradise

All those summer days tramping all over the grass and dirt left me with an inexplicable ache in the chest every time I catch a whiff of newly cut grass or freshly watered plants under the morning sun. The experience will never be exactly the same, but I can recreate a little patch of this childhood heaven even when natural grass isn’t an option for my current property.

Thanks to companies like Metro Synthetic Turf, I discovered that you can have your property fitted with artificial grass in the event that the real thing isn’t a viable option. For instance, my family makes a point to contribute to our community’s water-saving initiatives, and we have limited time to tend to a large front lawn and backyard flourishing with plants and trees. So our compromise was to retain the trees and potted plants, while opting for artificial grass instead of the natural kind. We don’t need to water as much, or perform strenuous maintenance tasks. Take a peek at and you’ll see how much the synthetic turf still looks (and feels) like the real thing.

My own kids roll around on artificial grass now, but that hasn’t kept them from running to me for bandages for their own scraped knees. It’s great to find that childhood fantasies and valuable memories can still bubble up in gardens with artificial turf.

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