As a young person and as a much older version of myself I find that I like to do things like make forts in the woods. Now it would look kind of silly if a 53 year-old woman were to go into the woods and start dragging around broken limbs. So I of course didn’t do that. No sir! I took four of my grandchildren to the earliest wooded boundaries of my youth and gave them a lesson in FORT BUILDING 101!
They may have been skeptical at first and granted it was a cold February afternoon but they trust this Granny to lead adventures. I explained what we needed: a group of trees close enough to weave limbs through, broken limbs and small dead trees bigger than you about Granny’s height to build up our walls, their muscles and some imagination.
The four of them were at it! Age three to eight they were calling my name when they found one they could lift themselves so I could admire their strength AND they were calling each other for help when they found one to long or big to carry alone. Okay Madilyn and the boys were, Lil Leni is a force all to herself and very much liked to work alone LOL (wonder where she gets that LOL).
It didn’t take too long however before the girls got cold (or maybe they just didn’t like that Cade and Holden kept trying to boss them about… yuppp that was probably it :0). Regardless they were ready to go back down to Nana and Papa’s.
Leaving the boys to it, I proceeded to help the girls back through the rusty, barb-wired fence and across the wide, muddy, clay ditch. Madilyn was in can-do-mode and ran and threw her leggy five-year-old self over it successfully and kept running intent on getting to Nana.
Leni however stopped and looked at me. Surprised I asked, “Ohhhh, do you want some help?” After she nodded I got in the ditch straddling each side of the mirky, little stream and grabbed hold of her extended, mittened hands. For just a moment I had to heave but within seconds it became effortless as my hands finished the swing ONLY holding Leni’s pretty, pink mittens.
At my feet a wail broke through the silence. Looking down I saw her perfectly cradled in the ditch, her booty resting smack in the mud-hole. Don’t worry she wasn’t hurt… just shocked and mad because she was dirty.
I would of picked her up immediately but I couldn’t stop laughing. She wasn’t in danger and could have gotten herself up but as she didn’t want to touch the clay so she just laid there waiting on me to pick her up and I did as soon as I could settle myself down a little. Scooping her up she was still fake crying and was giving me a scolding for continuing to laugh at her when in her words, “It not funny, Gwanny (Granny), ooo (you) dropped me.”
Laughing just feels… good.
The boys had quite a pile of limbs by the time I got the girls cleaned up and settled in and we made quick work of stacking them up. We only needed two sides as there were only houses to the north and east of us. They weren’t worried about Nana and Papa so much but I had them convinced that Gordy’s family would have been trained in tactical maneuvers as he had specialized in it at recess in school for forever (Gordy and I had started playing army in elementary school – many moons ago) and then HE had been in the Navy a long, LONG time. Anyway they were on it making sure they could hide but still see and defend.
Then our Fort Mission set off on an expedition. Traipsing through the woods, across some fences, past the ole spring and over the hill where the black panther watered. Then having made our target we turned back and I let them lead. They chose the trail visible to the road (panther thing might have scared ’em a tad :o) anyway now I told them their choice was making it necessary for us to also listen for vehicles so we would not be spotted. If you got to really live at all as a child you know how to play Hit the Deck.
Finally within site of the Fort we had one more lesson. One must know why you need a fort, how to build it, how to use it and how to defend it – so this Granny went rogue. They already had ‘stick-weapons’ and were leading the way when I grabbed one up and told them they had five seconds to get out of sight before we had a showdown. (They had been wanting me to go make the girls come out and be the bad guys LOL)
As they ran to hide behind the fort I ducked into the old horse stable and the game began.
Oh what fun we had edging back and forth on each others hide-outs. How proud they were of their labors. What beautiful memories we stowed away! And I hope they remember it all but at the very least I hope they sensed that life is always more than what our eyes can see.
Life is one incredible journey.
If you have lost the wonder I challenge you to step into the woods today and step back in time and remember how to dream with your eyes wide open.