What kid doesn’t love a fort? I remember spending hours at my friend’s Megan’s house building forts of couch cushions and blankets in their basement. My friend Anna had bunk beds in her room (oh how I wanted bunk beds!) and we would fashion a canopy, and hide on the bottom bunk making prank phone calls. Even at the lake each summer, my cousins and I would pile those thin mattresses in the upstairs living room (which are still there 20+ years later), and use our bags and suitcases as barriers.
But by far the best fort I ever had was not fashioned with dusty sheets and pillows. It was the one made with a fallen tree in my backyard.
I do not remember many details about the October 4, 1987 snowstorm. I was a few days away from turning 5, only just beginning my Kindergarten career in Ms. Fisk’s classroom at Elsmere Elementary. The power was out for several days, and school was cancelled. To my young self, there must have been 20 feet of snow. All in all, there was probably about six inches. Not much for the northeast. But the weight of all of that snow and ice clinging to the leaves brought our backyard tree all the way to the ground, creating an archway perfect for hiding and playing. I don’t even recall if the tree broke, or just bent. But for a few days it was heaven!
Even now I have a distinct image of nature’s fort brought. The leaves surrounded me like drapery, white light reflecting off the ground in flickers when the branches rustled. I spent what felt like hour piling snowballs, watching our dog Lexi pounce around (she and I were the only ones small enough to occupy the cove), and doubling up on gloves to keep my fingers from getting wet.
But with every fort then and since, after a time, it faded. The snow melted, the leaves became lighter, and the tree removed. Gone was my outdoor playground, replaced only with delightful memories.
(This is Day 4 of NaBloPoMo October 2012!)