The late summer sun had been up just long enough to melt the morning dew, as a group of little Indians moved quietly across the yard headed toward the woods.
Leading the band was my big brother, Tom, age 6. Following close behind were my sister Kathy, age 4, me at age 3, and our two cousins, Louis and Clovis, also ages 4 and 3. In little more than a year their infant brother, Tim, would be big enough to tag along, rounding the number in our little hunting party to an even six little Indian braves.
Yes, our number included one girl, but we never for a moment thought of my sister as anything but another Indian brave.
Perhaps because this was the first such adventure I can remember, it remains fixed in my mind. We were on a mission that summer morning. Unnoticed by our parents (which proved to be the norm), we lifted the weathered, flat door to the cellar and crept down the stone steps to explore that cool, dark cavernous place, lighted only by the sunlight that streamed in behind us.
The small cellar contained a few old tools, an almost empty coal bin, and lots of cobwebs. But then we stumbled onto unexpected treasure, a shelf lined with jars of jelly, all conveniently located within our reach.
In the dim light we could also see jars of green beans, tomatoes, and other vegetables, but these were of little interest to us.
Excitedly, but quietly, we picked out a few jars of jelly, crept back up the stairs, and silently closed the cellar door. We looked around to be sure the coast was clear and then stealthily headed for the woods.
Without thinking about it, we were already perfecting our skills of quietly moving through the forest in search of wild (or canned) berries, fruit, and wild game, without being detected by the enemy (also known as parents, or adults in general.)
Upon arriving in the woods we set about the task of opening our jars of contraband jelly. Not even my brother Tom was yet old enough to be entrusted with carrying a pocketknife, but this did not deter us. The paraffin seals were easily broken loose with sticks and the sticks worked well for dipping and eating the jelly, which we did with innocent pleasure.
The boost of energy from the jelly drove us on to further explorations and we soon found ourselves in the barn. Being such little kids didn