this is Croker Heights


When we moved here the back most of our yard was overgrown with bush honeysuckle and garlic mustard. With rental equipment and hard work, Barry turned most of it into a beautiful yard. We left the last 50 feet or so over to the weeds.Somehow, I’m not sure exactly how, the neighbor kids all started coming over. They raked paths through the piles of leaves and sticks. Each kid marked out their own territory. Those little territories became “houses,” those houses sprouted rooms. There was a bank, a mayor, an army…


Over the past three years the little town they named Croker Heights has evolved. The houses are bigger. Kids have moved in and out from sharing with each other. They’ve gone from pinecone money to hand drawn paper money to rocks. They’re feeling the effects of urban sprawl as the roads get narrower and the houses get bigger. Sometimes they are searching for dinosaurs, sometimes they are entymologist-match-makers putting male/ female pairs of crickets in jars to see if they’ll mate (they usually do!), sometimes they are holding elections or training the army. Lately they’ve been geologists– breaking rocks and looking up in books what kind they are.


As fall approaches I am really coming to the realization that this is our last summer here. I am so thankful for these neighborhood kids. I’m so glad that we let them have free reign back there behind the shed. I’m thankful my kids have had a magical land all their own. I’m amazed at their creativity, their collaboration, cooperation, their respect for each other’s “property,” the conflicts they’ve resolved… for the memories they’ve made. My kids have learned so much– this has really been a crucial part of their education.


The amazing thing is that it all happened on its own. I just stood back with band aids and drinks of water and let them be. Having all different ages (they now range from 15 to 3) has created such a great dynamic of leadership, service, patience, aspiration. It is something I have dreamed and hoped my kids could experience. And it seems in their very nature to create it.


13 thoughts on “this is Croker Heights

  1. What wonderful pictures…Croker Heights is like it’s own little town…so creative and wonderful and almost like a trip back in time.

    This is your last summer?!?! How did I miss that? What will we do without you?? :o(

  2. I think Croker Heights rocks. Maybe they should consider training someone to spray for mosquitoes though. Although maybe it’s just old people that don’t belong there that get attacked!

  3. I remember a conversation I had with you when you were abut 14 or 15 when you told me of your dream to have a big tree house in your backyard that all your kids could enjoy. Seems like you do have that. Your Mom was always the kool-aid Mom with THE place to play and now you have the same title.

  4. I remember in school at Mast Way in little Lee, NH (barry will prob not remember) the kids made “houses in the woods’ edge at the playground during recess. using large “brooms” of pine bows they made paths and there were houses and such. And my kids too have been making “forts between their dad’s logs that are upright awaiting their future (chainsaw carving designs) and on and sometimes between logs for being cut up to become cord wood. it is amazing! Keep us upto date in where your next assighnment will be !

    your sis-in-law

  5. Wow! Sounds very unschooly to me, and a bit like my childhood. Mine had lots of woods and houses but fewer kids. Hope your new location will have the same magic.

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