Thursday, November 14, 2013

Captain's Log, Day 114: Trees of Summer

          I thought it was going to be another ordinary day in the woods. I mean, all the signs were there. I was loaded up with enough gear to set up camp for the foreseeable future (even though we were going to be back by lunch), my siblings were squabbling with me over weaponry rights (the bow was mine) and I'd managed for the upteenth time to smuggle the ax out of the shop and hide it at the edge of the woods (Mom didn't think I was mature enough at twelve to use it, so all operations with it had to be kept secret). I'd even purloined the junk drawer's entire selection of twist-ties, even though there was honestly no practical purpose for them--I just liked twisting them into random shapes and sculptures.
          "I already called dibs on the bow!" I finally yelled at my sister Quill.
          "But I called dibs yesterday!" she shot back.
          I sighed, then, with inspiration born of utter obviousness, whipped my sword out of my belt. "I'll duel you for it!"
          Our swords were our pride and joy. I'd made them out of thin fiberglass fence posts, with duct tape hilts and amazingly-crafted hand guards. (Trade secret.) Despite the fact that she knew she would lose, Quill drew her sword and attacked. Within the space of ten seconds, I was able to poke her in the stomach.Quill reluctantly conceded both the fight and property rights.
          "I'm challenging you next," my brother Nemesis announced.
          This was a bit more of an issue, as he was almost as good at I was and, moreover, was adept at smashing my hand hard enough to make me drop my sword. Today, though, I wanted to try out the new basket hilt that I'd added to protect my fingers.
          It worked well. I was the undisputed master of the bow. I slung it over my back with the arrows, stuck my sword back through my belt, and added a rubber band pistol and a cap gun to the array of weaponry I had strapped to my waist. I picked up my rubber band rifle and announced my intent to depart.
          "Hold on--Squirrel can't find her boots," Quill admonished me, indicating the youngest member of the family whose sole contribution to the party was the massive delays she usually incurred. 
          Nemesis and I shared a look of mutual frustration, threw up our hands, and stormed outside barefoot to vent our feelings with several more duels. Finally, though, the girls joined us outside and we made tracks for the woods, pausing only so I could snag the ax. 
          All four of us firmly believed that we could have survived in the woods for as long as we wanted to, pleasantly ignoring such trivial things as food and shelter. We spent almost every waking moment during the summer in the five acres of forest behind our house. It had everything we could ever want, up to and including a pleasant creek meandering its lazy way through the valleys that we particularly enjoyed pushing each other into.
          Today's itinerary was the same as every other day: explore the woods, pretend that we were lost, play Robin Hood, hunt for treasure, collect a bunch of dead sticks to start building a fort with, get in a fight, and go home for lunch...and that was just the morning's agenda! We loved summer.
          The whole plan came to a screeching halt when we got the grove with the young saplings in it.
          "These are bouncy!" Nemesis announced, snagging a tree and bending it over. Hanging on to the top, he began jumping, the tree's natural springiness giving him an extra couple of feet to each bounce.
          Of course, we all had to try it now. The grove echoed with shrieks, laughter, and a brief bout of crying when Squirrel let go of hers at the apex of her jump. Nemesis and I had to try that as well, but a combination of expectation of the inevitable results, studious callousness towards personal dismemberment, and a resilience that rubber would envy enabled us to survive the experience without waterworks of the sort Squirrel displayed. 
          The next trees that we selected for bouncing were too close together. Quill and I collided, the branches of our trees meshing together. We started to argue about who needed to switch trees, but as I glanced up, I had a brainwave.
          "Wait! Keep holding on!" I yelled, digging frantically into my pocket with one hand while maintaining a death grip on my tree with the other. Pulling out a couple twist ties, I quickly secured two branches from my tree to two from Quill's. 
          "Don't hurt the trees!" Quill shrieked, letting go. I rolled my eyes at her and let go of mine, too. The trees quivered and rose a little, but stayed locked together. I yelled with triumph. "YES!!!"
          "What was that for?" Quill questioned quizzically. Nemesis wandered over, smelling triumph and wanting to share in the spoils. Squirrel was collecting acorns and ignoring my outburst.
          "Watch!" I ordered, quickly choosing another sapling not too far away. I bent it down towards the first two and twist-tied it to the original pair. I scurried over to the other side and repeated the process. "See?"
          My siblings studied my creation doubtfully. I gave it a couple seconds as I surveyed the tangle of leaves over my head, forming a nice, natural roof...with the four trees forming a dome-like structure...
          Nemesis whooped. "A HOUSE!! NICE!! I WANNA TRY!!!!"
          I distributed the twist ties and helped get them started before returning to my "tree house" and adding some more saplings to it. I quickly discovered that I could weave branches together to hold the trees together, so I gave the rest of the twist ties to my less talented siblings and continued weaving trees together. The area soon began to resemble a village, with houses dotting the hilltop. I had another brainwave and wove another cluster of trees into a second dome, which I then attached to my house by weaving branches together to make a hallway. And then we all decided to make a few guest houses for our imaginary friends. 
          That pretty much set the stage for the summer. Nearly every day, we went out to the village. It stayed together for almost nine years; my house finally split apart in the summer of 2013, the trees having grown enough to pull themselves apart. We practically lived out there for the next three summers, until I discovered a briar patch that I decided to hollow out and convert into an impenetrable fort--
          ...but that's another story.