I have always been a "flower child" even before I heard the term or knew what it meant. I'm a typical dreamy Pisces, and spent most of my childhood days wandering in the woods, picking flowers, finding beautiful stones, watching the birds and animals and singing to the trees (yes, I sang in the woods because even as a young child I intuitively felt closer to the Creator when I was there. My favourite song to belt out at the top of my lungs was one from my Sunday School - "How Great Thou Art" - even now it makes me cry as I sing it)
When I was 6 years old my family moved to Topley, British Columbia, Canada. My father was a trouble shooter for a large lumber company and we moved around frequently within British Columbia, Alberta and finally the Yukon Territory as he would go into troubled sawmill operations and reorganize the processes. Sometimes it was a simple matter of moving people around from one area of the mill to a different area where their skills were a better fit. He never laid off workers if at all possible - he taught me that we all have skills, we just have to find our niche.
Anyway, the year I was six, we moved to Topley, and as usual I spent my summer days wandering in the woods behind our house. In those days (early 1960's) this was not unusual for children to explore on their own as the world was much safer and kinder then and our parents had taught us to be more self-reliant than today's kids.
While wandering in back of our property outside of town, I came across an old shed. It was about 8x8 made of 2x4's and plywood. It had a plywood door that was hanging on one hinge and it had a window cutout but no glass in it. The inside was covered in cobwebs and mouse droppings with large piles of dead leaves that had drifted in over time. I took one look and saw this as my dream playhouse.
Over the next week or so I swept it out, borrowed one of my dads hammers and nails and nailed the hinge back on the door (crooked but it worked ), borrowed my dad's heavy duty stapler and stapled plastic over the broken window. I hauled wooden boxes found around to use as a table and chairs and brought my dollies and tea set as well as my favourite books, colouring books and crayons into my hideaway. It truly was a dream playhouse - it didn't even leak when it rained!
Then, one day when I walked down to play, I found an intoxicated Native lady inside my dream playhouse! In typical spoiled brat style I put my hands on my little hips and told her to get out, that it was MY playhouse. She responded by punching me in the face and breaking my nose!
I ran home to my Daddy and told him what happened and he explained to me then a life lesson I have taken with me all my 64 years - He told me that to me it was just a playhouse. I had a real house with a warm bed, food and clothes every day if I wanted. The woman was obviously a street person and to her it truly was a DREAM HOME. In this little shack she could stay out of the weather and keep warm and dry and relatively safe. She didn't have the things I did, and I should be proud that I had made it so nice for her. I thought about it, and the next day I took half of my sandwich from lunch and went down to the playhouse. She was not there, but I left the sandwich and the next day when I checked it was gone, so she obviously ate it. I never saw her again, but all summer until school started I took her half my lunch, and every time when I went back the food was gone.
When we moved to the Yukon when I was 10, my father went one step further and took it upon himself to build a little shack with a locking door, glass window and tiny wood heater on the backside of our property for one of the local street people who was always being picked up for vagrancy. Everyone in town thought he was nuts, but I was so proud of what he did. He always said that everyone deserves dignity.
To this day my nose is crooked and it reminds me to always treat others with respect and dignity no matter what their lot in life and to help and be generous to everyone possible because I have been granted so many gifts in this life.