free range

This is how I spent a part of my summers growing up. We went to Mississippi, to visit my grandmother, the real Miss Eula, and to see all the cousins, aunts, uncles, and assorted neighbors who always exclaimed over how much we'd grown. I'm on the left, my cousin Carol is beside me, my grandmother is in the middle, then my brother Mike and my cousin Bubba. Yes, Bubba.

Those were idyllic summers. So were the same summers I spent growing up in Camp Springs, Maryland, in the house at the corner of Allentown and Coolridge Roads. This is where my character Franny grows up in 1962, in my new novel. Something like her summers is described in Roger Ebert's journal here.

I loved those summers, too, Roger.

Readers wrote in, including one who wrote about the movement to raise "free range children" today, and Roger penned another article, about "free range kids" here.

I grew up largely free range in the sixties, and I tried to give my children that kind of childhood as well, although they were less sheltered than I was. However, Ebert makes the argument (with some flaws, I think -- it's not that simple) that today's kids are so over-protected, over-scheduled and over-committed that they have no childhoods.

What do you think?

I love Roger Ebert on so many levels, but that's another story for another day. I love the feeling of free range this summer, this first summer in 8 years I haven't traveled for work. The novel is off my desk for another week or so, until it comes back from copy editing. I'm beginning to write in my head again, so I know it's almost time to sit back down to the page.

I'm renting a house on a beach in August. I'm planning to write a book there. I'm hoping to play lots of Scrabble and gather shells, slap mosquitoes, wash the sand off my feet, eat good food, commune with whomever shows up to visit, love my husband, sleep long sleeps to the sound of the ocean waves, and let the words flow onto the page. Free range.


  1. I'm glad you decided to rent a house in August and to take a well-deserved break. We've just returned from Colorado and lovely temps in the 70's. Loved the free range blog and related stories by R. Ebert. And I love having time to read and ponder things... ahhh summer.

  2. Reading and pondering is one of the joys of summer! Of life! Hope you had a great time in Colorado.


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