“Sometimes a certain smell will take me back to when I was young
How come I’m never able to identify where it’s coming from?
I’d make a candle out of it, if I ever found it
Try to sell it, never sell out of it, I’d probably only sell one
I’d be to my brother, cause we have the same nose
Same clothes, home grown, the stone’s throw from a creek we used to roam
But it would remind us of when nothing really mattered
Out of student loans and treehouse homes, we all would take the latter.”
I might amend that last line to say "ladder," instead of "latter."
|The ladder is simple and pragmatic.|
“You may go as far as Great Falls, and no more. Agreed?” Gluten-Free Mama would have no way of knowing whether or not the three boys would follow her instructions or not, but parameters had to be set, and this boundary was as good as any.
How far away was Great Falls? The question isn’t how far, but how long does it take to get there, because the land is rolling hills, straight up and then straight down, through ravines, over rocky hillsides, down, always following the lay of the land, down.
However long it might have taken me back in 1982, when we first moved up here on the mountain for good, and how long it would take now, are two different things. The reality is that going back up, there would be almost no drop-off; it’s the traveling down that would take the time.
As an eighth grader and a Boy Scout, I remember our scoutmaster telling us it was easier to go up a trail, than down, and we scoffed at his words. He was talking about strain on the shins and ankles; we were talking cardiovascularly.
I have long since learned that he was right.
We weren’t particularly worried that the boys would lose their way, because they knew they always had to head up toward the top of the ridge. Eventually, you had to run into Bell Springs Road.
I know because I got twisted around about 35 years ago, entirely disoriented, and just kept going up. When I finally came out onto the Bell, I was a mile up from my house. I was never particularly worried, just hungry.
Gluten-Free Mama would pack picnic lunches for the boys, though, and off they would go, on explorations that would last as long as tempers remained in check, and a good time was being had by all. I am not naive enough to think that when they arrived at their destination, they all sat down and had a nice tea party, and that there was never any disagreement, as to which might be the best course of action.
That especially applies if one were tired, or had some other issue arise. Being country kids, they had to be prepared to deal with a wide range of varmints, from the right-up-front rattlers, to the insidious ticks, which even I struggle to deal with when I encounter one lodged in me.
Like everyone, I detest them, but a weird sense of claustrophobia sweeps over me at the same time. It’s as though if I don’t get it out of me, I will go nuts, as if I were trapped in an elevator, or sitting in AT&T Park, amidst 41,000-plus fans. I just can’t do it.
Yellow jackets, hornets, bees: We got ‘em all. We have scorpions too, but though they look scary, they’re not, because the most the locals can do is sting you like a bee would, with no more serious results than that. We used to see herds of wild pigs, but they were mostly little ones, with a few adults, and they wanted nothing to do with us.
So how far away from the house was the treehouse I just stumbled on, the rope so encrusted with lichen that it had obviously not been touched in a couple of decades, at least? It is no more than 200 feet, if that, as the raven flies. Located at the base of the main farm, albeit with fifty feet of manzanita forest in between, there is also a fence.
The fence goes around the entirety of what is being farmed at this site, and includes the house and outbuildings. The ancient treehouse was just a grove of thick manzanita and a fence away.
What it melts down to is that the three boys were capable of occupying themselves for large chunks of time, day after day, without TV, electronics or motorized vehicles. A hammer, a handsaw and a handful of nails, always available, were all that was required.
That and a picnic lunch.