The earliest childhood memory I have is based on a photograph. I’m about 2 or 3, and at this time, my family and I were still living in Japan.
I’m by a tree and reaching down to touch a cat. But I didn’t just touch the cat. I pinched it. The memory is kind of fading now, but I can remember the feel of it’s loose, furry skin between my thumb and forefinger. Then it ran away. Fortunately it didn’t scratch me. It’s kind of funny. For many years, I HATED cats. Today, I have 2 of my own.
Fast forward to a year or two. Before I was in school, I spent time at home hanging out with my mom. Being in the house all day was boring, so I’d go out and play in the back yard. It looked more like farm land, though… or maybe more of an abandoned lot (back then). Dirty was surely plentiful.
In a spot in our back yard that I can remember CLEARLY, I saw some “lumpy” dirt. I picked it up in my right hand, and squeezed. It felt squishy, but not too squishy. In my 2 or 3-year-old brain, it was “clay.”
When did I learn that it was NOT clay?
When I dropped the lump back onto the ground from which I got it and smelled my hand.
It could’ve been a mix of many things, but clay it was not.
Lesson learned: Beware of dirty lumps on the ground.