“So what’s the plan?” I ask as Ricky puts just enough water into the small paper cup to give it a stable stance in the stream and sends it floating down the creek.
“Got to get these babies home and then I’m going to follow you around until you find a way to get us into trouble,” Ricky picks up the old gallon paint can by its wire handle and gives Sally a pat on the head to let her know she’s not in trouble anymore.
“So the same ole thing,” I grin at my joke, Ricky just gives me a stare. The trip back to Ricky’s takes twice as long as it should with Ricky taking extra care not to splash out his pollywogs and Sally, ever so often, running between my legs trying to trip me up. We climb up and down The Hill instead of going around.
The Hill is not a natural formation caused by the tectonic plates pushing up against each other. Man made The Hill three summers ago. For a whole summer giant excavators scooped dirt out of parts of the creek and piled it into dump trucks. The dump trucks traveled, sometimes from miles away and dumped the dirt in the empty field at the end of our street. We watched as the pile grew higher and higher. Loaders came and pushed and formed the pile until the dump trucks had a road to the top and were able to continue building The Hill. The trucks and equipment finished their restructuring of the creek and left, leaving our current form of entertainment known throughout the neighborhood as The Hill behind. Heavy winter rains packed the dirt; summer sunshine grew grasses making The Hill look like it had always been. Kids of all ages and sizes formed paths. Kids pushed dirt, carried lumber, sheets of tin, and made flat spots for forts. I have never seen a parent on The Hill. The Hill is ours. But no one has done what Ricky and I will do.
We carried shovels, like rifles, on our shoulders and fell into a natural cadence marching on the main, most traveled path, up the side of The Hill. At a wide spot in the path, about two thirds of the way up The Hill, Ricky and I stopped in unison, without a word being said we knew this was the spot. Ricky outlined an arch in the side of The Hill and we started our attempt at becoming cave men. At first it seemed the mountain was against us as dirt from above fell and filled our work area but after hours of work over several days the ground stabilized and we pushed our hole into the mighty mound. Our dirt formed a front porch and widened the path in front of our cave, by the time we had room to sit inside we had already created the most obvious addition to The Hill. Other kids started to follow our lead and scooped out hideouts, but we were the first and most ambitious.