A Childhood Reborn
By Jenna Porciello
†††††††† Have you ever been to a place that made you feel free? As free as a bird soaring through the sky? Peterís Pond was that place for me, and though I havenít seen its sandy edges in what seems like an eternity, I still remember it like it was yesterday. As I think about the place that once brought me such joy, I am suddenly there again. The scent of the giant pine trees, the feeling of the pondís minnows tickling my feet, the sunshine cascading down from the opening of the trees. No other place has ever made me feel so in touch with nature, and so in touch with myself. I think of Peterís Pond, my mind brewing a concoction of memories, and my childhood is reborn.
†††††††††Our daily regimen at the park was quite simple. Our day started early. We always awoke to the children on our street riding their bicycles or the sizzling sound of pancakes being made on a griddle. You could hear the excitement of the childrenís voices as they tooted their horns or rang their bells. The rich aroma of my fatherís coffee filled the campsite. Itís how I always knew he was up before the rest of us. I would wake up to these sounds and smells every morning while there. These sounds and smells were a sure sign that summer was here.
†††††††After breakfast, we spread sun block on our milky white bodies like butter, starting at our shoulders then spreading it down towards our feet. We would put together our goggles, noodle rafts, towels, sunglasses, walkmans, and flip-flops. We were ready for the beach!
†††††††My cousins and I swam for hours. My Aunt called us fish because we never wanted to come out of the water. At noon, to our own reluctance, we were forced out of the water to eat lunch. I ate peanut butter and jelly. By the time I had finished eating the sandwich, my hands were sticky from the melting gooeyness in between the bread. My lap would be covered with crumbs and jelly would be smeared all over my face, but I didnít mind. I dove right back into the water and swam for a few more hours.
†††††††Iíll never forget those long, hot summer days at Peterís Pond. Swimming was by far my favorite thing to do at the park, but there was also something else that peaked my interest. After dinner with my family, my cousin Krista and I would park our bikes at the top of Cedar Street. Cedar Street was the biggest hill in the whole park. On the count of three, Krista and I wouldnít peddle, but would simply let our selves go down the hill. It was an incredible feeling. It was like when youíre a kid and youíre trying to run as fast as you can, so fast that it feels as if your legs are going to fall off, but you donít even care because itís so much fun. When I let myself go from the top of that hill, that same incredible feeling would wash over me. I felt as if I was flying. The wind whipped past me in a frenzy and my hair, blowing into my face because of the wind, clouded my vision, but I didnít even care. I felt as if I were walking on air.
†††††††When I think of Peterís Pond, I think of the camp fires we had almost every night, of bingo, of swimming, riding my bicycle, running around at the play ground, trying to look older to impress cute boys. But thatís just the tip of the iceberg. There were the midnight escapades, when my cousin and I would sneak into the menís room to use the bathroom, or would get spoken to by camp security for being too loud, or would wake up to the sounds of the raccoons and skunks making a meal off of our trash. Most of all, when I think of Peterís Pond, I think of how happy being there made me. It was a place where I could be myself, where I could be a kid, and if I had to go back there tomorrow I would continue right where I left off.
†††††††Two summers ago I did go back to Peterís Pond. I was dumbfounded when my cousin Krista and I visited the park one summer morning on our way to the beach a few towns over. All the pop-up trailers, all the tent sites, were almost all gone. To bring in more money to the park, the owners had decided to rent out lots to people with big trailers. Street after street, lot after lot, we drove past where our childhoods once took place. A part of it lingered there still, and another part of it was so unfamiliar, it was disappointing to have ever come back at all. The pond looked smaller, the playgroundís see-saws and swings all rusted and chipped-paint, the sand box barely had sand in it. I could still hear kids riding their bicycles down the street and I could still hear the sizzle of pancakes on a griddle and the scent of my dadís morning coffee. The sun felt stronger on my face now, but it still made me feel the same as it did when I was a kid. There were fewer trees than when I went there. They had to chop a lot of them down to make room for the new, bigger trailers. The campsites werenít as private due to the lack of trees.
†††††††I looked at my cousin, and without even saying a word, we knew exactly what each other was thinking. How could a place that had meant so much to us in the past, mean completely nothing to us now? It was so different looking. The effort to look for anything vaguely familiar was heartbreaking. If only we had expected it to look this way before we visited it, we probably would have never bothered to come at all.
†††††††Thinking back of Peterís Pond, my mind brewing its concoction of memories, I can still see myself on the beach eating my peanut butter and jelly sandwich, riding down the hill with Krista, swimming hours upon hours in the pond, plastering my face with makeup to impress the boys, playing at the playground on summer nights, sitting around the campfire, winning at bingo, hearing the sounds and smelling the scents that made me remember summer at the camp so well, is all too familiar. But looking at the new way Peterís Pond was set up to its campers, my childhood became a distant memory and only a lingering feeling in the back of my mind. That day I put Peterís Pond behind me, but to this day, I still relish in the fact that I know without that place, my childhood would not have been what it was. I think of Peterís Pond, and my childhood is reborn.
© Jenna Porciello