Sunday, July 7, 2013

This Treehouse Must Go

This old moldy reminder of someone else's kids is coming down. Eventually. My poor weed whacker and its ancestors will appreciate it.
One of the bigger projects on our plate this summer is the total, definitive destruction of this treehouse in our backyard.

Yeah, yeah, I know that you're thinking. With three kids growing into the stay-outside-until-dark-and-rescue-lightning-bugs-from-no-real-imminent-danger stage, you should leave the thing up and let the kids hide out in it, share secrets in it, and hold a decade-long coming-of-age party in it. Instead, you'll just get them another imagination-sapping video game or electronic, beeping, lighty-up machine. Kids should be playing outside from dawn until dusk, not coming in to even go to the bathroom or to get a Band Aid or report a stalker. The way we did, back in the good ol' days. Your kids are going to get fat and lazy. Childhood obesity is right around the corner, even though your daughter could walk out of a jail cell without turning sideways and your son only eats 3 meals a week.

Stop thinking that. This treehouse - which isn't really a treehouse anyway, there are no trees to build it on- came as part of the property we bought in the summer of 2004. We didn't really do anything with it at that time since we had no kids, and then in the fall of that year, some 10-year-olds visiting our neighbors came over and broke all the windows in it while we were away. Beautful. That's just conjecture, but it's pretty good conjecture. Our neighbors have an annual bonfire, visible from space, on the night we turn the clocks back (extra hour to party!!) and play classic rock and argue about parking until everyone passes out. It's a real hoot. I'm sure keeping track of their kids was out of the question that night.

Though you can't tell from the photo, the land that the playhouse sits on is named (unofficially) Nature's Ghetto - it's a swampy, marshy, snake-infested glob of mud and still water that has killed three lawnmowers and four weed-whackers in nine years and offers no practical use other than to foul Dad's mood every time he tries to jam a lawnmower through that quagmire (very likely) and to potentially give us all malaria (not really likely but it sounds harrowing). And I'll mention snakes again. One day we did save a washed-up, pregnant turtle from back there and put her back into the tiny stream behind all that green. But one neat nature moment in nine years isn't going to cut it...the rest of the time it's just weeds and mud and piles of dead leaves, with a few snakes mixed in. A perfect place to build a playhouse!... so thought our house's previous owners, who must have known they would move and some other sucker would have to deal with it.

If the name Nature's Ghetto isn't doing it for you, maybe Sisyphea is better. At some point we fell into disfavor with the real estate Gods, and they sentenced me to endlessly push a lawnmower over that crap, only to have the grass grow back faster and thicker than the time before. Every winter I pray for temperatures to dip into the minus-280s, hoping maybe stuff will die, but if anything winters are getting warmer, so no luck there.

Fear not, though, parents who think I'm robbing my kids of playful experiences. A few years ago we got this playset for our kids that sits away from the dangers of Sisyphea and, since neither my wife nor I has the patience or mental wherewithal to Do It Ourselves, we just got somebody else to build the thing. It took two experts an entire morning and half an afternoon to construct it, so had we attempted a DIO venture, it would still sit today, three years later, as dangerous abstract art.  The only maintenance here is some sealing each fall and knocking down the screen-door sized cobwebs that grow there overnight. More my speed.

But I've been informed by our Secretary of the Interior (my wife) that I no longer have to maintain the Sisyphean Badlands if I just get rid of the playhouse. That's why this is such an important project. Knock down that thing and I am able to "give back to nature" by letting nature do whatever the hell it can with earth that even my kids are afraid to go near. (And I can spend more time at my desk job!) If I were smart, I'd turn this destruction project into a fund-raiser, and give people one whack with a real-live hatchet for a dollar donation, which would go to pay for the hatchet I'll need to buy to get started. I have also considered burning the playhouse down, but I'm not an expert with fire, so I'm afraid I'll lead the Today Show some day with "Breaking News: Delaware, Engulfed in Flames, our Al Roker is on the scene."

I don't wish to meet Al Roker any more than I wish to catch Delaware on fire, so I'll start with a hatchet. Maybe upgrade to a chainsaw. Stop by if you want take a few swings; I'll waive the initial cover charge.

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