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I remember cherry bombs and M-80s. I suspect that M-80s were already illegal by the time I remember my older brothers and their buddies putting them under coffee cans (metal cans) to see how high the cans would fly. I must have been around eight or nine years old, and that was a big "wow" for me the first couple of times. Cherry bombs they used strictly as a noise maker, mostly to make little kids like me jump really high. For myself, I was drawn to quieter pursuits, although I went to the Independence Day fireworks display along with everyone else. Watching that gave me enough fireworks for a given year.
In those pre-air-conditioning days (at least for us), we spent little time indoors during summer. Until I was eight years old, we lived "in the country," which in our case meant mostly places where no neighbors blocked the scenery. We ran barefoot as soon as the weather warmed, and we got new shoes every year for school because we had long since lost our shoes from the prior year. Our feet were tough enough for the gravel roads and the woods where we lived, and shoes were optional everywhere we would go indoors.
We moved to town (1,000 people) the year I was eight years old. I found town boring; I loved the woods and missed them. I still do.
After a year of that, I discovered the local library. I know today that it was tiny on a big-city scale, but I had never seen so many books. Come summer, I made a habit of reading in a chair on our big front porch. Some days, I read two child-size books in the same day. If I recall correctly, I went through the books intended for my age group that first summer and got permission to borrow whatever I wanted. Yes! That gave me a key to the outside world. I still read outdoors any chance I get.
Fast forward a couple more years. I learned to ride a bicycle, later than any of my six siblings at age eleven. That replaced part of my reading immediately. My family did not have a car, so my travels had been limited to places I could walk or the few places my parents found it necessary to take me. Within a week or two of the first time I rode the bike a whole block without falling, I covered the five miles to the next town to visit a friend. I discovered that I could go wherever I wanted, without paying for anything or asking anyone to help. By the end of the summer, my friend and I had ridden our bikes to the county seat, 15 miles from home. He went on to ride motorcycles around the US, and he's still a biker forty-some years later.
I loved the bicycle and still do. I continue pretty much the way I began, riding for the freedom of getting places under my own power. The exercise and closer contact with my surroundings are great, but "practical cycling" is my core motivation. I've learned about equipment and technique along the way, and I've developed political and spiritual values that tie into this, but part of me is still that same 11-year-old boy setting off to explore the world beyond that little village.
Reading and riding made up the bulk of my summers after that, and those memories overshadow most other things. At some point, I went camping with my best friend. That was wonderful, but I didn't do very much camping until later. Reading remains my favorite hobby. Cycling, now as then, is less a hobby than a lifestyle.