Building a tree fort for four boys is a very important act of Fatherhood. I have heard, “You’re a genius!” spoken in my direction from my offspring more in the past couple of days than I have the entire 17 years of this parenting journey so far. Many of our years of parenting have reflected something my sister-in-law posted on Facebook this morning. “My daughter is like green tea. She draws out my toxins and impurities. Then rubs them in my face.” Thank you Erin, that about sums things up. But having my oldest two attest to my genius-like attributes makes holding the baby worth the birthing process.
Building a tree fort is kind of like building a family. At times I really am not sure I know what the heck I’m doing and then all of the sudden things look alright, only to be lead into long moments of bewilderment and complete confusion.
One of the hardest moments so far in the construction of this elevated fort of awesomeness comes with a bit of irony as I drive huge lag bolts through the bark and into the woody trunk to hold pieces of it’s cousin onto its side. The human cut and planed boards being attached to a living tree holds a whole sermon in thought but will probably never be preached. The tough part is making these boards level so the tree fort can hold some resemblance of a highly crafted structure.
With only one branch to build upon and the great desire to have a fort that enjoys 180 deg. view it began quite difficult to keep things level, not to mention the difficulty of building the platform frame with no supports.
But with a little help from a couple of strong young men, a four by four brace and a four foot level it finally started to take the resemblance of sketches floating in my head. Once we figured out how to build the first section of the base the next few became easier. Then screwing down the floor and building another wall was as easy as making nice MLT: a mutton, lettuce and tomato sandwich, where the mutton is nice and lean and the tomato is ripe. They’re so perky, I love that.
Kind of like living, isn’t it? Those foundations are so hard to build but when they are built so much can happen and so quickly. Problem is, so many of us decide the foundation building is just too hard, so like pansies, we give up and go right to building the structure without the foundation. We think all the glory is in the structure – no one ever notices the foundations - everyone sees the structure.
My foundation for the fort was in place long before I fastened the first plank to it’s uncle, Mr. Cedar Tree. I actually learned how to build from my dad, then from school, then from a company that built barns, then from my own construction business I ran for several years. All of that gave me the ability and confidence to place a firm foundation so the structure can be good looking and safe.
Don’t cheat foundation building. Give it time and enjoy it. Work at it. It will always pay off. These times of struggle and hardship are what glorious tree forts are built upon.