Long and Winding Road

Growing up in Zimbabwe, we basically ran wild. Everyone had a bike, we spent days outdoors (rain or shine - heck, rain was cool!), there was nothing electronic to distract us. In Gweru we had a treehouse - a huge wooden packing crate hauled up into a tree by dad (in his suit) and the garden boy. The stories I could tell about that place...! In Harare mom made us a real-live teepee, big enough to sleep in - which we often did. We found out which of the plants in the garden were edible, and concocted the most disgusting "food" around our fire. Fortunately avo's from one of the three trees supplemented our "diet" - the trees conveniently hanging over the roof for climbing purposes.

It was a life filled with adventure of the self-directed kind. Scraped knees, random bruises (still seem to get those today, oddly enough), sun-kissed freckles all over your face (I really should learn the value of sunblock), leathery bare feet that could walk unperturbed across a meltingly-hot tar road (though inside you were screaming - but hey, you weren't gonna let a boy beat you). The kid with the best bike was top of the pile. I had a red 12-speed. :-) An outing was a trip with multiple families for a picnic by the dam, or amid huge boulders perfect for clambouring over (don't forget your roll of rope and your knife!).

I remember one day mom needed something from the shops. Being 11, I was old enough to go off on my own and get it, armed with the appropriate cash. Heck - we'd been biking all over town for years anyway, perfectly safe. So off I went, headed toward the first shop that popped in my head.

It was only about 5km away...

But after 1km my bike had a flat wheel! And I walked, and pushed it, and finally made it to the shop. Got my stuff, headed back... and was met by worried parents back home. "Where were you?" they asked, "you've been gone for hours!". Well I explained the distance, the hills, the lack of air in my front tyre, the long and winding road there and back...

Only to be told, "but why didn't you go to the shop just down the road?"!


Oh well, learning curves and all that. :-) Needless to say I didn't make that mistake again.