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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Birthday Memories

The wind blew and the house stood.  Usually a good thing. It is nice that my house is still standing, but today I am talking about the treehouse.  Like most good treehouses,    this one has stories to tell.  Built by my son and husband, the treehouse is a reminder of my son's own history. 
Today is his 29th birthday. It has been about 15 years since the birth of the treehouse but they came of age together.  Accessible at first only by a knotted rope  then later by a rope webbing, the treetop club house saw  four boys grow to become men.  Many weekend social functions revolved around the treehouse.  Close by was the  perfect spot for campfires.  My daughter, too, was a regular member of  the treehouse community. Her girl friends were not very interested, but the boys welcomed her around their fire as they told their stories, accompanied by bawdy jokes and scatalogical humor, none of it allowed around me, the mother. I have a feeling that she was not the only girl to visit the treehouse.

As you can imagine, not all of the treehouse times were good.  I have a feeling that those four boys will not soon forget the morning that they saw and heard the voice of an angry demon screaming from below.  But mostly good times surrounded those weekends at the treehouse. Whenever those young men get together, you may be assured of hearing at least one treehouse story.  One of my favorites is about our hound dog Peach.  Peach often stayed with the boys on tree house nights.  The house had a pully system with a box attached so that they could pull up supplies from the ground. With some effort, Peach could be brought up in this box.  Usually, though, she was content to stay below.  Being a hound dog, Peach liked to track animals.  If we didn't catch her quickly enough, she was given to chasing deer.  We frowned on this and tried to stop it whenever possible.  Late this particular night, the boys were sitting around the fire.  Peach had gone off hunting. All of a sudden the woods erupted in motion as Peach flew out of the woods and jumped over the fire, running hard.  Before the onlookers had a chance to recover, a doe burst from the woods in pursuit, ignoring the boys, intent on teaching a lesson to one scared hounddog. 
Not long after that Jeff saw the same thing happen in the hay field.  I think Peach may have accidently come upon what was probably the same doe who had gained valuable confidence at their last encounter. This time Deer chased Dog across the hay field.  Peach had learned her lesson and from now then was content to watch deer from afar. 
That was many years ago . . .or was it only yesterday.  Birthdays are great times of reflections, both our own and those of our children, nieces and nephews. This is my son's birthday and it brings him to the front of my mind, particularly as I remember him discovering his own life in these woods. From all day adventures with his sister, to relaxed sunny afternoons sitting with his feet in the cool mud from the creek in the gully, to tire swings, digging to China, falling off of rocks and ropes, to making signs in an effort to keep loggers from cutting down the grape vine tree, he is part of these woods and they are part of him.   
   The treehouse continued to play a large part in the life of my son and his friends.  It had 2 sets of bunk beds  and room on the floor for one more.  In the fall and spring they had a kerosine heater to make it through the cold nights. Just like Jackie Paper, though, those four boys grew up. They are now much too big to stay in that small room in the tree top even if it would support their weight. Two are living nearby working in area plants and have their own families, one is a coach at a small college a couple hours away and Jesse, is now married and lives several thousand miles away surrounded by the beauty that is Lake Tahoe, Nevada.  They all return between Christmas and New Years, driving under the treehouse that nurtured their dreams just a few years ago. 

The treehouse no longer holds boys, girls or dogs.  A swarm of hornets spent a while on the back window but there are "no trespassing" signs posted on the decaying tree.  Every storm threatens to bring the house crashing to the ground.  I see no earthly reason for the tree to stand.  A grown man could enter the cavity in the bottom. I'm sure I could push a sword through the pithy trunk. The only limbs remaining are the ones holding the treehouse suspended. A small tall thin board holds up one corner in the hope that it will give some support until the tree caves in on itself signifying the final call for childhood until that time when each of those boys builds his own son or some other child that he loves, his own treehouse or club house or fort, that special place for boyhood adventures and dreams.

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