I began as some scrap board nailed together with big nails. I was a flimsy platform. The smaller kids got a few bigger kids from the neighborhood to help wedge some two by fours against my underside and the tree. I wasn’t very secure but the kids were having a great time putting me together.
By summer time, the father had grown quite concerned about my integrity and safety. He came out with the boys, surveyed me from all kinds of extreme angles and measured me. The littlest kid got to write down the numbers and the bigger one was put to drawing on some construction paper.
The man and two boys sat at a table in the yard and looked at the drawing. The man explained that he had no idea about how to build the castle like image the older kid wanted. Instead, together they made a far simpler drawing.
The man explained that when they went into town they should go ahead and get all of the things they needed, more nails, sanding equipment, mider box, roofing and paint.
The smaller kid still clutched the measurements.
The group shored up my existing floor so they could play while other improvements were coming together.
Late that summer, I was the grandest and only tree house on the block. The bigger kids who helped out in my first days came back, on and off to help out with one of my parts.
When I was done, I was a sturdy and homely tree house. I was glad the grownups didn’t spoil my coolness by exclaiming I was more of a veranda than a tree house.
In an overdone effort to prevent my tumbling down like a deck of cards, dropping children as I went, the man put big sturdy pillar like supports under me and lodged them in cement.
In the event of a storm, the man warned, come inside, being in a tree during a storm was not a good idea.
They made my interior, complete with three walls and a roof, into a kids club house. I put up the no girls allowed until the boys were into middle school. They hung out less but still kept the dust stirred up.
One of the kids tried smoking inside me but he ended his grand experiment by puking over my edge.
The older boy tried to bring a girl up here. She was too sissified to attempt the climb. The kid told her as much and they both stomped away mad.
For a while, no one came out. They would rake leaves from around my supports but no one played up here.
One winter an opossum moved in and in the spring time she moved on with her babies clinging to her.
Raccoons came and went.
One day, the kids were nearly grown up. They came out and cleaned me inside and out and checked the wood that had gone soft here and there and walked away.
I don’t know if they were planning something or trying to find something. Maybe they just needed to go back in time for a bit.
A few weeks after my rather random cleaning a huge storm came up. It snowed and rained and snowed. Then ice came. The wind blew madly and I felt myself loosening like a baby tooth. Just a little rocking back and forward and a bit of pain as I pulled away from the tree.
It wasn’t me that was pulling away, I realized that later. It was the tree giving away to the storm. It rolled over in a sort of half turn and fell across the back fence, stalled a moment then as the fence collapsed the tree jolted to a stopping place.
I was still standing but like the tree before it fell, I had a little half twist. My legs, pillars, stood well in the cement shoes but the parts of me that depended on the tree were gasping and sagging and loosing integrity.
The storm passed and the man and his big boys came out to have a look.
The man warned them not to go under and stay away from it till he could figure out how it needed to fall.
When the guys had set through a mug of coffee just sort of gazing at the all around destruction from the storm, they gloved up and set off to survey me with the same plotting looks the man gave so long ago when he told the measurements to the little boy.
The little boy, now at least a teen ager stepped back as the two others knocked at my smaller supports. My floor gave way and dropped down like a hang mans floor against the cemented supports and looked like a wooden sheet hung out to dry.
They eventually got the floor away from the posts and then sawed the pillars down to a decent height. Still tall enough not to run a lawn mower blade into them, tall enough to not be a hazard.
They hauled most of me off with the left over trees. They tried to get all of my nails back.
The next day, the man and boys, big boys by now, came out with a long cord and a small wood burning pen. The boys etched their names in my posts along with my date of construction and destruction.
It has been a long time. The posts are well cured, they stand in silent testament to fun and family.
– Tree House