I grew up less than a quarter of a mile from the Chattahoochee River. Luckily for us, the zoning commission viewed the area along the Chattahoochee River a flood zone and did not permit building on this land. On those three nearby acres, we spent our time exploring, practiced driving our green Vespa, built forts and bike jumps. After snowstorms, we made snowmen and carved out angels. Eventually, to our dismay, a family of four built a 5000 square foot house on the land, despite the zoning commissions earlier "flood zone" ruling.
I can recall that I was very afraid walking the mile and a half home in the early evening past the undeveloped flood zone. I was never afraid of natural disasters, or the animals who lived among us, but of people, like the flasher who periodically cruised our middle and high school campus with no pants on. I was afraid someone like the man without pants would cruise up, knock me off my bicycle and push me into his car, never to be heard from again.
The memories etched in my mind are of thunderstorms without power, long-legged wasps nested in deck corners, pet turtles who ran away, the dank smell of red clay cellars, the conquered fear of racing down the steepest driveway and the neighborhood dogs we knew by name - Gus, Boris, and the like - but never trusted.