By RICH JESPERSEN
“You building that for your grandchildren?” my neighbor called through the open window of his pick-up stopped in the road in front of my house. I heard his question, but barely.
At 68 years old, my hearing has become more an issue, or people are speaking more and more quietly. On top of that, when he called, I was fifteen feet or so up in the branches of the tree in our front yard.
“You building that for your grandchildren?” I had been asked that question many times in the last week.
I live in a small town in north central Montana. (Big Sandy, pop. 598) When someone changes something about their house or yard, neighbors notice, and in a town this small, everyone is more or less a neighbor. A new roof, a new patio or deck, new siding, a contractor’s truck parked in the driveway, the plumber or electrician coming and going. Few things go unnoticed or unremarked upon.
So, I have not been surprised when people asked, “You building that for your grandchildren?” Neither have I been put off by the question.
I do have grandchildren who live in Montana and, I am glad to say, love to come visit their grandma and grandpa. When the weather allows, they shoot baskets in the driveway, climb the tree, swing on the swings, throw frisbees and balls on the lawn, and build fires in the firepit.
The small ones, two little girls, have particularly enjoyed their visits to us and to Sylvester Maplethorp, which is what I named the silver maple tree in our front yard when I began to carve a face into his trunk.
I have told enough people in town when our grandchildren were coming for a visit or just left. So I was not surprised or put off when asked, “You building that for your grandchildren?” However, my answer has always been the same.
“No, but they can use it too, if they want.”
Sure, my grandchildren can climb the net into the crows’ nest. Sure, they can sit in the lounge chair I have up there. Sure, they can use the pulley to hoist up picnic lunches and snacks. Sure they can slide down the thick climbing rope.
So can neighborhood kids who drop in. Some smaller ones have come with parents, and some older ones by themselves. Children, preteens, and teens, they ring the doorbell, at least the first time, and ask if they can climb the tree.
I make sure I know who they are and whose they are and then watch them for a while to make sure everything’s okay. But when grandchildren are not visiting, and neighborhood kids are busy elsewhere, you may find me in the tree.
I always loved climbing trees and still do. I love getting up high to get a bird’s eye view of the world. I enjoy the cooler breezes up higher, as well as the rustling of leaves and flickering of light and shadows. I often take a book with me when I climb. I sit in the lounging chair and read, think, and even nap.
So, no, I did not build my little crows’ nest treehouse for my grandchildren or the neighborhood kids, but they can use it too.
Just ring the doorbell and let me know you’re here. (By next Spring, I will have added at least one cargo net hammock.) ISI