Sunday 19 May 2013

The Field Part II

The field at the end of our street would draw us kids to it from time to time to collect butterflies, grasshoppers, dragonflies and to just lie down to watch the clouds scoot across the summer sky. All things come to and end and the field at the end of the street was no exception. One day the bulldozers and earth movers appeared and stripped off the top layer of grass, weeds and dirt, dumped it into trucks, never to be seen again. We didn’t know what was happening, but like most kids we just liked to watch the big machines doing what big machines do.
There was a constant stream of dump trucks coming and going. They would arrive empty and leave full. This seemed to go on for weeks and weeks. It turned out that the area had grown enough to warrant an underpass so that the trains wouldn’t hold up traffic. It was a huge undertaking which we watched on and off.
The construction workers didn’t work on Sunday, so that was the day that we were able to take over the site and pretend that the bulldozers were tanks and this was a battlefield from the war. It really looked like a battlefield to us and no matter what we set out to do during the day, somehow we were eventually drawn towards the underpass. One evening, we were climbing all over this “tank” when one of the guys somehow managed to start it.

There is probably nothing more exciting or frightening than sitting on a dead bulldozer one moment and the next moment it comes to life. Not only did it start, it started to move! Of course we had no idea how to steer it or stop it, all we knew is that somehow we had to get off. That isn’t as easy as you might think because there were metal and mud tracks moving on both sides. We eventually just took a leap and ended up prone on the dirt while we watched the bulldozer lumber off. We were mesmerized! Terrified! Thrilled!
Well, until we realized that the bulldozer was heading towards the thirty foot cliff that it had probably helped to dig. It kept driving on until it up ended and disappeared. We ran to the edge of the cliff and saw that it had landed upside down and the treads were still turning. It had made an awful noise when it dropped, and we knew that this was the last place that we wanted to be when the adults showed up, so we ran as fast as we could to the train tracks and disappeared into the long grass. We alternated between laughter and terror wondering if we had been seen at all.

When we came back to our street from our round about way, we could see groups of people standing on the street looking in the direction of the field. We tried to look like we were innocent, but at that time in our lives we were pretty much guilty of something. When I came up to my house, my dad said “Ken, go to the end of the street and see what is going on up there.” I couldn’t believe that I had permission to go and hang around and watch the after effects of the dozer going over the cliff.

Sometimes, things just work out, and that night I told mom and dad all about the upside down bulldozer and the cops and construction guys milling around wondering what to do.

That was the last day that we could play at the construction site, because the next day a shed went up and inside the shed was a grumpy, mean old bastard that would chase us away whenever we wandered over to see how things were going. We still snuck around, but getting chased soon lost its appeal and we reverted to playing football and hide-n-go-seek to fill the days.

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