Our Rural Roots

Sweet Memories of Spring

Blogger Katie Pratt recalls how she as a country kid with her friends would emerge from winter's grasp to seek adventure. (DTN/Progressive Farmer photo by Katie Pratt)

The lure of spring comes on a crisp morning breeze.

Snow fades into mud. Where the sun rays reach, shades of green crawl across the yard. On those first spring days during my youth, this country kid and her friends would emerge from winter's grasp to seek adventure.

Typically, this began by outfitting everyone in mud boots before tromping off into the squishy pastures of the hickory grove, a sparse stand of hickory trees that sprang from the banks of the creek. The creek, a narrow cut of water that meandered through our pasture, continued along the neighbor's field into places unknown. Kept clear of underbrush, we could wander the grove and creek banks shoulder to shoulder.

Then one day we paused at the pasture's edge and watched the creek gurgle into a tangle of shrubbery and tree branches past the property line. Impulsively, we climbed the fence.

Single file, we trudged through the brush. No cattle roamed here, so nature went untouched. We tripped on exposed tree roots, sliding down the bank into icy water. When the trail became impassable on one bank, we formed a human chain to cross the creek on fallen tree trunks and rocks. Thorns tore our coats and cut our hands.

We felt like true explorers that day. Uncomfortable. Slightly scared to have wandered so far yet daring enough that no one suggested turning back.

Eventually, the creek widened, somersaulting over large stones before spilling over a rusted metal barrier into the Green River. We had found the creek's mouth just as the sun sunk into the horizon, splashing pale pinks and yellows across the water and up the banks.

That first waft of spring will be here soon, and I will breathe deep and remember those moments, those friends and the youthful thrill when we roamed carefree and tested our boundaries.


Katie Pratt, a north-central Illinois farmer, still finds discovery and pleasure in roaming the pastures of her youth, especially in springtime. Find her blog at https://theillinoisfarmgirl.com/…