My husband and two sons like to head out into the woods behind our house and have adventures. I went with them last weekend and felt more like an observer than a participant. They lead me down to the creek as if I had never been there before, showed me the stick fort they have been working on and pointed out the best spot to sit and watch the creek rush by. It felt like they let me into their secret world for a few hours.
Everything is still brown and mostly dead down there and the stick fort was slightly ominous with the deer skull poking out above all the sticks but it was like a pirate ship in the middle of the woods and it embodied everything that is rough and dirty and wild about being outside. They have plans to build a real tree house this summer, but it's cool to see them constructing structures from just the things they find in the woods.
We have an old swing set, it's rusty and worn, but it still works. Quinn would swing all day if we would keep pushing him. He loves the feeling and asks to go higher and higher. Underneath the seats of the swings you can see the original yellow paint and Milo wants to paint them back to that color. I'd like to take the old swings off and just get new ones. What a beautiful weathered piece of wood!
Milo is an expert in the creek, very sure of his steps and he knows where it's safe to walk. He told me when it gets warmer he wants to lay down in the water where it rushes down a small slope and let the cold water run over him. I love that he isn't scared or creeped out by any of it. The creek is an anchor, it draws us to it with the sound of water rushing and the sparkle of the sun off the surface. It's something the boys can touch. The nearby lake is too big and too deep. The creek is something they can put their feet in.
I can see how Chris becomes a kid when he is down there with Milo and Quinn. He loves it as much as they do. He is the one showing them how to walk in the creek, how to cross the log and where to throw the rocks for the best plunking sound. He is collecting the sticks and making plans for the fort and placing the deer skull. He is doing it for them, but I know that he is also doing it for himself.
My three boys. Explorers. Builders. Adventurers. I look forward to watching them make that place more their own. Some of my best memories as a child were of our tree forts in the woods across the street from our house. We swept the floor of leaves and made rooms and perches. We were older and it was a child's world only, adults never came there, but I hope that Chris and I can stay a part of this place with our kids.