Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Teepee Time

Sometimes when I can't fall asleep at night, I lie in bed and count my blessings. The list is waaaaay too long for me to itemize here, but somewhere up in the top tier of material godsends would be the fact that our family has the incredible good fortune to have a home in the country where we can go and totally unplug. No cable, no internet, only occasional and spotty cell service, though we try to put the phones away while we're up there. Lots of trees and woods to run around in, lots of wildlife. Its never unusual to see the following: a porcupine at the foot of the lawn rooting around for supper, the little boxer turtle (who pees all over us when we gently pick him up to have a closer look, leaving the kids in hysterics), a few bunny rabbits, a blue heron on the pond, a family of wild turkeys along the tree line out back, some guinea fowl (they belong to our neighbor, but roam pretty freely), lots of deer. Once a few years ago my husband Henry saw a moose with her calf, but that was a singular sighting.

Henry grew up on a farm in England, and outside, in the country, he is in his true element. Though he has always been an engaged and loving dad, his parenting totally shines when he and the boys are in this place together. He has spent countless hours alone with them building dams in the stream, exploring and walking through the woods to discover secret forts, building a treehouse, climbing and jumping off rocks, and generally allowing them to just be little boys, outside, free from the perils of the playground and the harness of their mother's constant worry that they might, god forbid, skin a knee.

Last week we were up at the house and Henry decided to cut down a birch tree whose branches were in danger of damaging some power lines. It was a fairly small tree, but once he decided to take it down, he rounded up the boys and declared that they would be building a teepee. He got chainsaw out, and began slicing off the trees many pole sized branches. Charlie and Jake helped strip them down, Jake and I dragged them up to a flat spot in the lawn, and together we all helped pull the thing up into the air until, lo and behold, we had something that looked an awful lot like a teepee. A big one. The boys were thrilled, and I took pause to appreciate my amazing husband, and marvel again at his knack for being able to spontaneously provide our sons with these Lost Boy moments, where a ho hum day can unfold into an unexpected adventure, and the impossible becomes real.

Unfortunately, there weren't any buffalos around for us to skin, so for now our teepee remains uncovered. But next time we're there we'll cobble together some canvas and fabric and paint animals on the cover and close it up properly. In the meantime, we have been busy making and crafting in other ways, but the languid pace of summertime has slowed down my inclination to document it all. I hope to get more of down here soon, but hopefully you're too busy playing outside to bother reading about it anyway.

Charlie stripping the branches off of the poles.

Jake dragging the stripped poles up to a flat part of the lawn. (It's hilly up here!)

Here are a few of the poles in waiting. We used a total of eight for our teepee. They were each about 15 feet long.

Once we had all of our poles ready, we put them into a fan shape and got ready to tie them together at the top.

Tying the poles.

Though it appears in this photo, taken by Jake, that I'm not doing much, I'm actually in between taking individual poles and fanning them out into a circular formation while Henry holds the center up.

But I readily admit that Henry's job required much more strength than mine did! Here he gives a final heave upward.

Adjusting poles into a final formation.

And TA DA!!

Here's the song I was humming along to in my head while we were building.

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