Deep in the woods behind our house, at the end of a long path, overlooking the alfalfa field, sets one of the newest structures on our property. In fact, the only structure newer is the smokehouse we built last summer and fall. The rest of our property consists of our decade-old house, which replaced the original farmhouse, and a collection of original buildings that we have been slowly renovating through the years.
The construction of this newest structure was not done off a set of blueprints or a well-thought out plan. Instead, it was conceived in a boy’s imagination and constructed over a long period of time based on the availability of materials and the whim of its builder.
This boy (now a 17-year-old young man), never came across a piece of scrap lumber, building material, or other miscellaneous object that he thought was not suitable for incorporating into his tree fort project. In the beginning, I protested about him hauling all that “junk” down into the woods. Eventually, I relented and made him promise me that some day, maybe as an adult, he would clean it up.
The first salvaged materials came from the end of the re-routed original driveway back when we purchased the property. He claimed the “No Trespassing” and “Stop” sign that were no longer in use. The “No Trespassing” sign was promptly posted on a tree as you approached his fort project.
The “Stop” sign is the next sign a visitor to the area encounters. I try not to take the signage messages personal.
He also salvaged the old mailbox, for when mail is delivered to the tree fort.
In its earliest phase, the tree fort started out as a simple platform wedged in the crotch of a large tree. As scrap materials came available over the years, the construction continued with the addition of walls and eventually, a roof.
One of the more recent additions, and my personal favorite, is this urinal-type thing. Don’t ask me. I have no idea where he came up with the idea, why this was necessary in a fort in the woods, or where he got these supplies.
And just in case you were wondering how one would wash their hands after using the urinal, he designed a collection system for rainwater into the structure (see the bucket), as well as a chute to direct rainwater into the urinal for rinsing.
At some point, he brought an old door down to the fort for installation, but it has never been attached to the structure.
So, over the course of several years, from around age 10 to 14/15, our oldest boy constructed this tree fort that now stands in our woods.
Somewhere along the way, however, he grew up and lost interest in his tree fort project (sigh).
Since our youngest boy has never had the same level of interest in building and constructing things, no new improvements have been made for years. Although I cringe slightly at its appearance in the woods, it also makes me smile to think of the creativity and hours of enjoyment that went into constructing this tree fort. Perhaps it will now stand alone in the woods until it is either cleaned up by its builder, like he promised his mother, or until nieces, nephews or grandkids come to play at our house in the future. Until then, I will just chuckle and look away when I venture into that part of the woods.