Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Roxaboxen Was Alexa's Game

Many people may not realize this, but it was Alexa who was the imaginative one as a child. I mean, yes, Sam and Jacob and I still get lost in our little reveries, but it was Alexa who would get an idea in her head and then actually carry it out. It was Alexa who could spend a good part of the day just sitting up in her room reading; it was Alexa who would write-out, direct, and of course act, in all the plays we have ever put on; it was Alexa who had the flow of thought that always kept us outside and busy in the summers - and winters for that matter.

It was Alexa who initiated one of our longest running childhood games - Roxaboxen.

One of the greatest things about coming from a big family is that you always have someone to play with. I remember when Scoobie found out about our little backyard game he wanted to join, and he did a little bit, but he was not what made it. Not even my friend Colleen got in on that. It was really a family thing.

We would go out behind our house, past the big birch in-between the garden and the old, ugly trailer that took up most of the yard; we would go down the little path and into the woods. Not very far in the trees started to thin some and we had our little set up. Alexa had a general store near the brook, in a little grove of trees. Sam had his blacksmith shop by the stump of a tree. I was the jailer. It was in a small clearing right in the middle of a bunch of pines. Jacob, if I remember right, started out as my deputy. (Kaitlyn joined us later, and eventually Ezra. Eden never got in on the game until a new "chapter" of Roxaboxen started out in Saipan.

In the summer we would go back there in the woods a little ways, and play. We had our houses, shops, and such. We had our village disputes, but eventually, things always worked out. Sometimes we would go farther into the woods and sneak past the hermit's shack. Yeah, really, a hermit's shack. It was old, tumbling, and gross. Sometimes we would look in the windows, but usually we just walked on by into the little meadow that was beyond it. The man, Dier, was usually never there, or at least not that we could tell, but we thought it was kind of brave all the same.

In the meadow we would play games like hunting. The grass was really tall, and some of us would hide, while others looked for us. It was fun hunting, but it was more fun being hunted. That way, you could find a real good vantage point and watch the hunters try to be clever.

In the winter, the village was moved a little closer to home - right in our back yard. We would pack the snow up to build houses, line streets, and build stables. In the stables we would keep our sleds. We had a tobbogan that some of us would sit on while another pulled. It was always Lexi or I was did the pulling. If we were lucky, Levi would come out and pull us girls around. He was strong enough to run with us, so that was always fun.

In winter, the village disputes turned into village battles. Girls against boys. We would raise our walls up higher, and make little pockets in the snow to keep our snowballs cold. (Everyone knows you need a pocket in the snow to keep your snowballs cold.) We would chuck the snowballs at each other from our respective forts. You could almost guarantee that, if he was home, Levi would be in on this part of the game as well. I didn't mind getting hit by a snowball or two, but Levi was a pitcher, and he threw hard. Not to mention his aim was good - he hit me right in the eye once, and pleaded with me not to tell. I didn't cry (I remember 'cause I was really proud about it) but I was soooo mad. Needless to say, there wasn't any point in trying to keep it from Mum and Dad 'cause I was yelling so loudly at Levi they could hear it through the windows.

You could always guarantee on a game of Roxaboxen to keep us kids busy, any time of year. But then something changed... something really changed. Alexa started growing up. She wasn't a child anymore, and didn't have time for childish games. She and I started public school, and weren't at home as much, especially during the winter. We met new friends, outside our family, and started hanging out with them more. Sure, the boys and I played the game a few more times, but it wasn't the same. Alexa had moved on. Her little shop by the brook was taken over by Jacob, but it seemed empty.

Eventually the brook in that part of the woods became polluted and we were forced to move Roxaboxen downstream. (Don't ask me about the logic there, it was just cleaner.) Everything had changed. After one last summer of Roxaboxen - entirely Lexiless - we had all come to realize that the glory of the game, it's charm, it's fun, had died.

It sounds sad, I know; any time you spend reminiscing, it usually leaves you in a slightly saddened state. But really it's not. It's just different. It was fun being a kid, but I'm grown now, and I actually don't mind it so much. Yeah, I play different games, with different people, and in a very different way, but I still have fun. Imagination - a tool important in everyday living. I was taught to use mine by the very best.


ML said...

I am overwhelmed...thanks Mal.

ML said...

Mal, thanks for writing the story. You're a good writer and I enjoy these family stories. As a bit of advice to the unaware: "Dier" is pronounced "Dy-uh" and the polluted brook was probably due to large quanities of moose poo. Dad

Auntie Lee said...

Moose poo?

Anonymous said...

actually the polluted brook was perilously close to Stevie Smith's dump of a backyard, so yeah... I've always thought that probably had a lot to do with it.

Calandria said...

beautiful story