Over the past two weeks, I have told you about building a treehouse in our back yard for the grandchildren - the lumber, the sweat, the mistakes, the injuries. During the Fourth of July, all the work proved worthwhile when the five youngsters finally got together and played in it.
They didn't notice the crooked cuts or the uneven rails. You see, after my wife suggested we build a treehouse, I searched the libraries and the Internet for help. There was nothing, so we picked up boards and nails and did what seemed right at the time. For inspiration, I peeked over the fence at the treehouse our neighbors had built when their children were younger.
As work progressed, our plans changed. I had nailed vertical rails about 8 inches apart so the youngsters could sit and dangle their legs outside.
"But they will fall out," my wife said, "and that's a 6-foot drop."
I pointed out that no matter how careful you are, you can always expect a child or two to fall through the cracks. It's called statistics, and it keeps textbook writers rolling in money.
Another statistic, of course, is that I'm always wrong. So I nailed up new rails, twice as many as before, leaving gaps that only Ally McBeal could slither through.
At one corner, though, I left a couple of openings wide enough for a child to sit and dangle his legs. I hung a pulley there and a thin, yellow rope with a bucket at one end for sending items from the ground to the treehouse.
Nearby is a fatter yellow rope, attached to the end of a two-by-four, knotted so the children can climb it. At the remaining corner of the triangular playhouse hangs the swing, a flat board suspended from two yellow ropes. Near that swing is another, a rope (yellow, of course) whose seat is the size and shape of a hubcap. The children can sit on the board, straddling the rope, and swing.
Access to the floor is by a slanting ladder that began life as a wooden pallet we rescued from the side of the road. I added a few rungs and sanded the whole thing down to keep splinters out of children.
With the extra rails and ladder rungs, I thought I had taken care of safety. Somehow, though, our oldest grandchild, Kelsey, 8, managed to slip through the ladder rungs on her first climb and dangle upside down with her leg caught. She escaped with only pain and swelling, but the subject of our first incident is still a sore subject with her, in more ways than one.
At the same roadside where we found our ladder were huge spools that cable comes on. We took a big one for use as a worktable during the cutting-and-hammering phase, and a smaller one to serve as a table up high for Kelsey and Emily, Colten and Madison, Karson and her upcoming brother.
When my wife wasn't handing me nails or changing plans in midstream, she was taking care of the groundwork. She cleared our woods of poison ivy and planted trees, bushes, ferns and flowers. She made rock gardens, put in a birdbath and a bird feeder and created a new headstone for our departed dog Honey. She poured cement to make steppingstones, in which she got each child to place a handprint, then added pieces of her old jewelry and toys to individualize each marker for the garden.
Finally, after weeks of spending every spare minute (and dollar) in the woods, we were done. My wife wants to move on to bigger projects. Now that we've built a treehouse, why not a screened-in porch or a gazebo? She's insane.
Still, building our imperfect treehouse did strengthen my carpentry muscles and my confidence. Our handiwork won't make the pages of Southern Living, but I'm proud of it.
Today, a treehouse. Tomorrow, who knows?
Reach Glynn Moore at (706) 823-3419 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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