Visiting my family a few weeks ago, I watched my nephews climb the hill beside my mother’s house where I used to play as a child. My family moved here when I was about their age, and some of my earliest memories are of the sense of accomplishment I had when I’d run all the way up it, or the thrill of riding a toboggan all the way down. The hill is perhaps two and a half metres high, but it seemed enormous when I was young. Watching them climb reminded me of a passage from a novel I read in high school that has stayed with me ever since, about a man who visits the school he attended as a child and sees that the tree he used to climb now appears far smaller:
"This was the tree, and it seemed to me standing there to resemble those men, the giants of your childhood, whom you encounter years later and find that they are not merely smaller in relation to your growth, but that they are...shrunken by age....[for] the old giants have become pigmies while you were looking the other way." John Knowles, A Separate Peace
It’s been many years since I’ve played there, and in the meantime, decades of children have run up and down that hill. Perhaps someday mine will as well.