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I started driving when I was fourteen. I can still taste the dust as it came billowing into the window of my mom’s red Buick station wagon – my first real taste of freedom came in back and forth trips on the dirt road that was home. As long as I stopped before I hit the pavement, I had my parent’s blessing.

Cat-claw bushes and jackrabbits dotted my daily experience while most of my classmates were shuttled to friends’ homes on pavement that ended in cement driveways.
They lived on smooth, city-trodden roadways – I dusted the bulls that charged the fence every time I drove past them.
While they exercised their fingers playing Nintendo, I dodged javelinas.
My friends were good about taking the journey out to the dairy road as some call it, to cool down with water fights and trek down to the creek (crick) and walk along the dry creek (crick) bed and gossip in the arms of crumbling ruins that were tucked into the corners. We never tired of exploring the hidden recesses of The Creek and its mysteries. One corner, where fierce waters once carved a cavern into the land, became our fort. Yes, teenagers who grew up with The Goonies and Red Dawn still had forts. At least we weren’t drinking.

Never buy the excuse that kids party because there’s nothing else to do.

There were various dips and thrones carved into the limestone walls where we sat and discussed school projects and would this be an appropriate place to hide if America was invaded (still not drinking)?
One of my friends came over in a floppy velvet hat, on a particularly awesome day, and I immediately knew I had to have one. After I got it they were promptly given an important assignment: driving hats.
Down the dirt road we drove, taking turns at the red wheel, laughing at the poor saps that drank all of their youthful memories away while we were….um…..imaginative.
Really, only fond memories were made wearing those hats that represented our early steps into independence.
During our carpool home from school,  one of my newer neighbors pointed out to his mom  (is it still a carpool when no one lives close enough to see it happen?) that I could drive at 14 and he couldn’t. She said without hesitating, “Sherry is a country girl. Country girls can do that sort of thing.”
Did I mention that they also lived in said country?

You know you’re a country girl when you can bend the rules. (???) Was it the hat?

My daughter now owns my driving hat. She is only five and it hangs over her head 100_2769like a drapery but it is now her time to discover the world of imagination – a world where she can find freedom in being her, right where God has placed her.

When she is learning to drive, I may take her back to the dirt road for practice. Civilization is starting to trickle into that old habitat, but there is still freedom in the unstructured road, the ebb and flow of wildlife and there is, of course, The Crick.

Let’s raise our lemonades – (and other drinks that allow us to remember our youth) to the gift of imagination


and to those who wear hats.

Do you have a favorite childhood memory to share? Tell us in the comments.