This is a love story….
In the soft light at end of day shadows slowly stretch. Under the tree is a makeshift shelter. It’s empty now no boys or girls stamping their dreams on this space. But I still hear young voices calling back and forth. They are marshalling for the build, gathering the good wood, the junk and even some bits and pieces that are surely beyond the pale.
Abandoned materials consort with store bought lumber and natural fibres pulled from the scrub land floor. Ferns hang upside down slowly withering, their dripping green a potent camouflage. A branch horizontal to the packed dirt floor allows a look-out to survey all approaches unseen behind a leafy blind.
Hammer heads ring off 6-inch galvanized nails pounded with gusto. And there is a halting sing of saw as blade bites into board. Occasionally there is a shout for some adult help – a nail not sufficiently hit home, a heavy and cumbersome accessory immune to the straining muscles of young boys.
But make no mistake, this hybrid space of tree, fence, earth and sundry scrap open to sun and stars is a hide-out, castle, resting place, an escape, a sanctuary, a homestead, a club, a wondrous made-by-kids kinda place.
A rifle and helmet adorn the wall and a tipsy table is a snacking spot, a gather round and sit to plan and plot ambushes, attacks and marauding sorties through bracken, over stones, around trees.
Each day adventure glows steady here like a burning coal. Pounding hearts on the run burst with excitement. Bright, awakened eyes feverish with daylight imaginings see an impregnable fortress in the corner of the backyard. When I let go, breathe deeply and squint my eyes just so, it’s what I see too.
Kids love to create their worlds far from prying eyes. They love to build, to experiment, to shape their day, and unselfconsciously personify play. ….this is Fort Summer, a love story.
Close your eyes, think back, was there a Fort Summer in your world?