When I was a kid, my sisters and I always had a fort in the woods. Our first "fort" wasn't much of anything at all. It was two pieces of plywood nailed up like walls between some trees, and then a third piece down as a "floor." Later, we had a deer-stand-turned-treehouse that was much more cool...but when we were young, that little fort was extremely important. We played there for hours, had fort rules, and a pledge, and apparently, a song and buried treasure. I remembered the rules (which were largely put in place by me to get my sisters to do what I wanted them to do), and I remember having a pledge that we had to say every time we started a new "game" (though I don't remember what exactly we said).
I didn't remember the song or the buried treasure until I was going through a box of old stuff today from my parents' house and came across this:
In case you can't read kid spelling, it says "Fort song: I will never ever show anyone our treasure or tell them our secrets."
I do remember that we "buried" our treasure -- which, for the most part, was nuts and berries and leaves, with an occasional bead or small "treasure" we found in the woods. We buried it in a special spot next to a tree near the fort in a hole we dug with a bent metal spoon. It was always devastating that the spoon could never dig quite deep enough to prevent the rain or the squirrels from ravaging our treasure. It gave us endless games to play, because we, of course, had to chase down and avenge whoever had stolen our treasure. We did lots of hiding from and stalking the pirates/bad guys/imaginary wild animals, and typically chased them off to far away places while adopting a new child from the pirate ship, or rescuing a hurt animal from their pack. Along the way, we got "lost," sick, hurt, separated, and scared...it was a pretty rough, drama-filled imaginary life we led. These games went on for hours, and one "game" could last for weeks. We played until we ran out of things to do, got tired of our characters, or couldn't agree on where we left off in the last adventure and had to "start over" rather than fight as to whether we had actually found the pirates, or had merely seen their ship.
We played until the fireflies and mosquitoes came out and it was too dark to see. I was snorted at by deer in that fort. Barking fox ran past me. We saw snakes, and squirrels, and chipmunks, and mice. (We once had a nest of mice under the plywood, as a matter of fact). We had a small herd of cows (okay, not a herd...but like, 6 cows) run by us one day. I ran and opened the fence so they could run into the yard, and we hooked them up with their rightful owner (our scary neighbor in the back who was, apparently, cow-sitting. Who knew that could be a thing, right?). I have a very vivid memory of running up the back hill as fast as my 10 year old legs could carry me with 6 cows running in behind me. When it became clear that, no, I could not actually run faster than a full grown cow, I was pretty sure I wasn't going to make it to the top alive. About halfway up the hill, I realized I could climb the fence instead of running like I'm training for the Running of the Bulls. When I stopped running, they stopped running, and I pretty much felt like an ass for seeing my life flash before my eyes.
(I'll tell a story about Scary Neighbor tomorrow. I have lots of neighbor stories).
It's funny how we lose the perspective of how amazing and important these "games" were. Keeping that fort clean, protecting the Tresr...these were real, important things that had to be done frequently. So important that we had to write a pledge...and, apparently, a song.
It's funny, too, how we so often don't have the perspective of how creative and precious we all were as children. Even me, with my Tresr and my thieving, baby-leaving pirates. Even me, with my bent metal spoon, my mud pies, and my Sekrets.