In a village of 340 people in the middle of Nebraska, there is a two story house on four acres at the southwest corner of town. The house stands tired but tall, at the end of the street. Behind the house is a dusty barn which opens into a small pasture, ringed with cedar trees and the occasional cottonwood and ash.
This property was my home from first grade through 12th grade, and I mentally visit it often in order to help me remember the excitement and innocence of my middle grade years. As the second oldest of these seven children (and not much into the school thing), I excelled in the arts of outdoor survival, tree climbing, and exploration. You see, when I was outside, I was in charge - of everything.
Today, Phineas and Ferb would marvel at the forts we managed to build with our scant financial resources. With scrap material salvaged from the barn, we structured tree houses and defensive barricades to protect us from Storm Troopers, Bigfeet (or Bigfoots - you decide), Nazis, Russians, and Richard Simmons. (Sorry, but he really did scare me for a while, there.)
One time in fourth grade, I was chief engineer on a fort remodel (it had fallen into ruin after a brutal Storm Trooper assault about two weeks prior), when I watched a bumblebee fly under one of the planks lying on the ground. Since I hated bees, and figured this was probably some science-engineered spy creature, I ran over and jumped up and down on the plank to kill the trespasser.
That was the first day in my life that time stopped. Yes. It did. It actually stopped.
I know this for a fact, because, as I reached peak height on my second leap, three bumblebees zipped out from underneath the plank and kamikazeed my head. As they zeroed in, my feet and legs did the roadrunner spin - but I was still in the air. My hang time was record-breaking, and when my feet hit the ground about 38 seconds later, I spun dirt into McPherson County, the neighboring county to the west.
I only got stung three times on my flailing retreat to the home front, and I must have scared the poop out of my younger siblings, but I learned a valuable lesson that day. Bumblebees can fly faster than I can run. And also, TIME CAN STOP!
But I also use this memory, and a thousand others, to help me recall how in middle grade, anything is possible.