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Saturday, December 10, 2011

Birthday Memories Again

Today is my son, Jesse's thirty-first birthday.  This is a re-written and updated of a post I wrote for his birthday. The post started forming as I reflected on an extremely windy day. I hope you enjoy reading or rereading it as I do.

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 tree-houses, this one has stories to tell.  Built by my son and husband, the treehouse is a reminder of my son's own history. 
It has been thirty years since his birth and a little over 15 years since the birth of the treehouse but these two came of age together.  Accessible at first only by a knotted rope  then later by a rope webbing, the treetop club house saw not just Jesse but 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 boys will not soon forget the morning after a particularly eventful night that they 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 finally 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 is getting married next weekend. Then there is Jesse, is now married to beautiful Kerry. They live 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 new memories with his own child or some other child that he loves; when they build their own treehouse or club house or fort, that special place for childhood adventures and dreams.
As an update on this entry, originally written in 2009 then updated today, the treehouse miraculously still stands.  The tree seems to be made up of only pith. A long board gives the outreaching limb a little support. Jesse is home for a month. Today, his birthday he is sawing lumber for his own home in these woods


TexWisGirl said...

what great memories. a handsome, grown man you have there!

Beyond My Garden said...

I have edited this entry because my niece, on facebook reminded me that Jesse is 31 today. I had put that he was 30. The sad thing is that I really thought he was 30. I just became a year older by merely reading my facebook wall.

Beth Griffith Reisman said...

Beautiful and moving story. My Mom would have admired your writing style; and she knew the written word very well.

Beyond My Garden said...

Beth, she sure did. Many people in thechurch state read your mon's work.

floweringmama said...

Oh, what a great post! My oldest son is 22 and just yesterday he burst into this world with bright blue eyes!

Happy birthday to your son!

Out on the prairie said...

Lovely thoughts to share. I had a treehouse similar and we spent a lot of time playing in it.

Rose said...

I have really loved this, but you need to finish the story and tell about them waking to a screaming demon below...that sounds like a real good story to me!

Happy birthday to your son!

Mark and Gaz said...

Lovely thoughts, thanks for sharing them! And Happy Birthday to your son!

Sharkbytes said...

Great memories of good times with boys

KaHolly said...

So, he's coming home to live? What a handsome young man!! You have quite the gift fo words!

Beyond My Garden said...

Thanks KaHolly, He is just building a "vacation" home, at least for now.