COLUMN: Go outside and play

Anyone out there remember life without a television?

Anyone out there remember life without a television?

I do. (oops, now I’ve done it) I remember the day we got our very first TV. It was a piece of furniture to be revered and feared, just a little bit.

My parents spent the better part of the day it arrived, rearranging furniture to accommodate the new wonder.

Some of the kids on my block already had TV for some years and a few even had colour!

I never told my folks if I’d been allowed into a friend’s home to watch with them. (That sort of thing was not encouraged.)

As we all got used to having this strange and wonderful machine in our home, my mom quickly realized it could take over life as we knew it.

Mom was a force unto herself and declared there would be limits for the beast.

She didn’t believe sitting in front of an electronic device was healthy so kicked us outside after an hour or so.

We were only allowed to turn the thing on during the day if the rain was bucketing down and we whined so much we wore her down.

I can still here her hollering “That’s it! Turn that thing off. Go outside and play!”

We all had chores with gender roles clearly defined: Girls had both indoor (dusting, dishes and the dreaded ironing) and outdoor chores (weeding, painting, sweeping), boys got off easy and just had to cut the lawn in summer.

Play was encouraged but always came after chores were done.

The thing was, we knew we would spend part of each day outside.

Fresh air was considered a tonic for all sorts of ailments: weak constitution, the blues, boredom and cabin fever.

There were no “play dates” – all the neighbourhood kids just ended up outside, usually around the same time and depending on the season, played the same things.

Summer: living in Richmond, the drainage ditches were dry and we used them as our “tunnels.”

Fall: we went to the closest field to fly kites,

Winter: it was road hockey (no girls allowed, unless you were brave enough to be goalie.)

Spring: everyone had their marble bag in hand. I remember my big brother winning back for me many “steelies” I’d lost to merciless “marble pros” who took me for the novice I was.

If you think I’m lost in a whirlwind of nostalgia, you might be correct – to a certain degree.

After all, play is play, no matter where it happens.

Who cares if the playground is a smartphone screen or your dance partner is a Wii? It’s just that, well, the other night as I was tidying up the kitchen, I heard a strange and wonderful sound.

It was coming from outside and sounded like, yes, children running, chasing, laughing, playing. (Oh, how delicious it was to be allowed out after supper when the late spring evenings allowed the best games of kick the can or simply lying back in the grass waiting for the first star.)

I guess the message here is don’t forget to go outside. It’s big, full of noise, colour and scent and it’s wonderful.

Some great reads include: “The Adventurous Book of Outdoor Games by Scott Strother, “Go Outside!” by Nancy Blakey, “Everett Grist’s Big Book of Marbles” (check out the cat’s eyes) and “Sweet Single track” trail guide and website.

Oh, go on, be a kid again – it’s fun.

Sue Kline is the community librarian at the Summerland Branch of the ORL and finds the outdoors the best remedy for just about everything.