Maintaining property in town requires that one follow certain rules pertaining to the appearance of the home and lawn. When the Latham family moved to 20 acres of cow field in the middle of nowhere, we celebrated the absence of such rules.
Case in point: the children informed me one day that they were planning to dig outside in the yard. We had no manicured lawn to worry about, and no power lines or plumbing buried behind the house. So, my only request was that they move a little distance from the back door so we could still go in and out. They chose a spot on the back side of a gentle rise about twenty feet from the door. I peeked through the window to see them discussing which two would take the first shift digging as we only had two decent shovels. They got busy, and I turned back to my housework.
Each time I walked by the window that afternoon I glanced out and was astonished to find the children persevering with this project. Sweaty and dirty, some were digging, others moving buckets of dirt and all staring down at the ground, a point I couldn’t see from the house. The ridge blocked my view, but I was fairly certain the tops of their heads were sinking lower. That hole was getting deep.
The digging of such a hole, or Big Pit, as it came to be named, may not seem like an adventure. The pit itself played a role in several other adventures that I’ll not mention now, but the digging…yes, the digging was quite something. Unlike some forms of work (i.e. housework) in which it seems progress is never made, a hole can be measured. This is what kept the kids excited, and digging for several weeks. When friends came over, the little Lathams would run to meet them asking if they wanted to help dig the Big Pit. They always did. Especially the friends who lived in town.
It was a happy day when the children realized that The Big Pit was deep enough and wide enough to hold two of them. They could stand inside and not be seen at all from ground level. The Big Pit was suddenly a hobbit house, a tiger trap, a beggar’s cave…who knows? The digging was done for now, Let the games begin!