Am I the only one who thought of Huck Finn and the Mississippi when I read Efren Gerardino’s post about the river of his youth in the Philippines? There was the absence of fences and boundaries, the openness and sense of possibility – an American story but also the story of childhood everywhere. Efren remembered “the good life” even though he and his friends had very little, materially. Childhood is a commons. Where it is abundant, children can feel rich so long as they have food to eat.
The commons of my own childhood was abundant in its own way. We lived in an old, close-in Boston suburb, with meandering streets that followed the contours of the land. We played in the old aqua-duct, and at the swamp that formed a wooded basin behind the houses. By unspoken agreement, the entire neighborhood was open to us kids. We played football in one yard, wiffleball in another. We didn’t know the owners, and no one seemed to care.