Week 32 Challenge – Secret places

Week 32 Challenge – Secret places
As a child did you have a secret place you could go to? Was it real or imagined? Did you feel safe there? Did you share it with anyone else? As an adult do you still have a secret place?
secret-place  Image camera-user deviantart.com
This weeks challenge was sparked by a post on Alzheimers Australia discussing the storyteller in all of us and how to draw that information out and use it as a form of communication. This then led me to a blog,  by Laura Grace Wheldon who used this image to speak about secret places.
For me, this image was so evocative and drew me straight back to my childhood.  The area I grew up in was an emerging suburb. It had undeveloped areas.  I remember the road being surfaced and the sewerage coming through and other houses being built on our street. I remember other areas being opened up and the railway station being built.  But I digress.
There were areas of undeveloped land that were thick with boxthorn trees.  These trees were always a fascination for the children, actually, they were more like shrubs.  They were stunted, boxy and had thorns, they were very prickly. We, the children in the area, grew up in a prickly environment as the scotch thistle was also a constant companion. The boxthorn  fascinated us as the tree grew a bright red berry as its fruit

African boxthorn is a member of the Solanaceae family, which includes other plants suchboxthron1 as silverleaf nightshade, tobacco, and tomatoes. African boxthorn is an aggressive invader and it forms an impenetrable, spiny thicket. It is toxic causing discomfort and irritation but is not life-threatening. The berries, leaves, stems and roots are all poisonous and can cause nausea, vomiting, breathing difficulties and unconsiousness. African boxthorn was introduced into Australia from South Africa in the mid-1800s and was commonly used as a hedge plant.

Dangerous as this plant was with its berries and thorns, as kids we built cubby houses deep in the heart of the shrub and spent many happy hours there shielded from prying eyes. With a blink of an eye, they were a fort to protect the cowboys from the Indians or a castle where we had to rescue a  damsel in distress or the bridge of a ship and we would fight off the pirates. It was even a place to curl up and read a book.  I don’t ever remember being scratched, but I guess I must have been.  I know I certainly was often in trouble for the stains the juice would make on my clothes.  The boxthorn was so prevalent and such a feature of the area that many decades later the local high school was called Boxthorn College.  These boxthorn cubbies were certainly our secret places and we felt safe there. I have no memory of ever being roused out by an adult.

 

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