Monday, October 15, 2012

Latham Family Adventures: Ozark Pioneers

      The Little Lathams spent hours and hours listening to stories being read aloud to them by their father and me. This was the primary source of education when they were young! Consequently, their play often imitated the stories they heard.
     One particular area of study centered on the early years of our fine nation. The kids loved hearing about the Native Americans and their way of life, as well as the adventurous folks who settled here with their families. The idea of exploring and taming a new land intrigued the Little Lathams and they had many games which allowed them to become pioneers on our 20 acres of Ozark wilderness.
     They loved to trek about the woods. They even created their own covered wagon. Using long slender branches, they formed a ballooning archway and mounted it to their old American Flyer. Then they covered it with a sheet. It actually looked authentic from a distance. The only trouble was, there was only room for one pioneer to ride at a time. And that meant someone else had to pull the wagon...
     And pioneer children had to play, so the Little Lathams were anxious to try out games and entertainment they read about in books such as Little House on the Prairie. It seems that children of that time had great fun doing something they called tree-topping. This activity consisted of locating a young, pliable tree. We had plenty of these on our property. Next, the top of the tree is bent over toward the ground and tightly gripped by a child standing next to the tree. Each Latham took his turn to be the tree-topper. Now it is time for the fun. Still hanging on to the branch, the child begins jumping. If the tree has a flexible nature and if the child is the ideal weight, a really funny thing happens! The child is able to jump very high with the help of the branch which is trying to return to its upright position. With each jump, the child goes a little higher and even feels like he is flying for a moment. I'll admit, some of the Little Lathams didn't go more than three or four feet off of the ground, but still they shrieked with delight.  One did manage to fly ten feet up in the air holding tightly to the branch. He must have had the right combination of tree and weight. Or it could be that the Little Latham I refer to was just a particularly bouncy boy!