Five and a half years ago, we began the grand assault on our back yard known as "building a deck." We were most fortunate to have a hard-working and patient group of friends who not only helped us build what would become essentially an extra room on our house, but we learned the magic of using a carpenter's pencil to keep the boards evenly spaced, and that 107.7 FM "The Bone" plays AC/DC hourly at ten after the hour. When the smoke cleared, we had a place to sit on hot summer nights and wait for the grilling to be done, or look up at the stars on those rare occasions that the fog doesn't roll in, and we had generated a great deal of scrap lumber.
One afternoon, in a fit of Paterfamilias, I went out back with a fistful of screws and a cordless drill and created a tree fort in our apricot tree. I did this as my wife fretted about my safety and the health of the tree, and my son looked on with mild concern. Once the initial construction was complete, we drove for half an hour to find a place that would sell us a sturdy, bumpy slide and a nice rope ladder. I attached these to my barely planned structure, and pronounced it complete. My son made a few trial runs on the slide, and then retired to the sandbox, somewhat nonplussed by whole experience.
Over the years, the tree fort has seen its share of action - especially in the spring, when the squirt guns first come out and the branches provide good cover for a patient aqua-sniper. It has been the site of a number of Easter egg sightings, and when new kids first come to our house, they want to climb up and see the sights from inside. A great many different snacks and lunches have been consumed on the plywood floor, and it has even proved a sturdy platform for our apricot harvest in those years that such a thing was possible.
Today, the fort came down. The floor had rotted, and the railings were unsafe for even the smallest of children. The slide and the rope ladder were still in pretty good shape in all their pre-fab glory, but the rest came apart in a rather unsettling rush. It made me grateful for all the structural advice and planning we received on the deck, which is holding up quite nicely. Not so for the tree fort. After the screws had been removed from the lumber, a great portion of the rotting timbers now rests in our compost bin along with the branches that we were able to trim from the tree before it all came tumbling down.
I know I miss it more than my son - it was my project, after all - but I wonder how he'll feel when springtime comes.
If I had a million dollars
I'd build a tree fort in our yard
If I had million dollars
You could help, it wouldn't be that hard
If I had million dollars
Maybe we could put like a little tiny fridge in there somewhere
You know, we could just go up there and hang out
Like open the fridge and stuff
There would already be laid out foods for us
Like little pre-wrapped sausages and things
They have pre-wrapped sausages but they don't have pre-wrapped bacon
Well, can you blame 'em
- Barenaked Ladies