I have a tree fort. Yes, a tree fort – just like a ten-year-old, frog-collecting kid.
The whole thing happened quite by accident. The deck on my house is up high, because there is a walkout basement below. It is also surrounded on each side by a swath of trees. So, as I sat on the deck in a wicker chair, it occurred to me that I may as well be in a tree fort.
“You are middle-aged,” I said to myself. “You can’t have a tree fort.”
I don’t know what my subconscious mind was thinking. It ought to know me well enough to expect that my response to that little edict would be, “I can do whatever I want. There is not, nor has there ever been – that I’m aware of – an age limit on tree forts.”
Well, there isn’t. Even if there were, who cares?
My mind went to work, feverishly envisioning my future in a tree-high escape from the real world. Before I knew it, my fort had walls and a roof. Okay, so I put mosquito netting on a gazebo. It’s my fort, I can do what I want. I got plants, a few pieces of furniture, a little gas fire pit and some “Christmas” lights. Suddenly, this fort became a cozy living space, where I could make s’mores.
Once it was completed, my husband questioned whether I would ever actually sit in the thing, placing himself at dire risk of seeing an “ABSOLUTELY NO BOYS ALLOWED” sign in his future.
For three years now, the fort is up and running every May through October. There is no television. There are often bird and squirrel visitors, along with the occasional mosquito, bee or spider. I just sit in there, sipping coffee, gazing at the trees, occasionally making s’mores. I read books and chat with old friends on the phone. Mainly, I just sit and breathe.
What I do in the fort is not nearly as important as who I am in the fort. I feel like a kid again, in my own little dreamland, far away from the world and its worries.
I’ve felt guilt over this indulgence a few times. I get over that by looking at the imaginary, “ABSOLUTELY NO GUILT ALLOWED” sign over the door to my fort.
Kids don’t, or I certainly hope they don’t, feel guilty about taking a little carefree time. Why should the rest of us? Those moments of tree fort quiet – with only the sound of birds or crickets singing – remind me how important quiet truly is. Even just 15 minutes in my escape, roasting a marshmallow, watching squirrels build their own forts in neighboring trees, or just sitting, is time well spent.
We’re always looking for serenity; the trouble is, most of us probably wouldn’t even know exactly what it is we’re looking for. Sometimes, the best way to find peace is to remind yourself what peace is – high in the trees, with absolutely no guilt allowed.