Strange Fire

At first, I hesitated to use this picture because it may be easily misunderstood, but therein lies the risk of the writer when seeking to communicate below the surface.

A few years after I moved into this house and it was evident that we would be here for a while, I built my kids a playfort. It had a swingset, a slide and a clubhouse with a shingled roof. I had fun designing and building it and it proved to be a worthwhile investment of a few weekends worth of work.  My kids spent hours with it. I taught them both how to swing themselves, but they still liked it when Dad would push.

Five years ago, when I was an empty nester, I realized that there was no longer a need for the playfort. It was showing its wear from the elements and I wondered if it’s time was up.

Instead of taking immediate action, I felt it was important to ask both my kids for their permission to tear it down. I wasn’t sure what they would say, but I wanted to honor their opinion.  They both seemed puzzled that I would ask, and gave me their blessing. But my daughter did ask one question; “What are you going to put there?”

I said, “How about a fire pit?” To which they both said, “Yes! Go for it.”

I picked a weekend to begin demolition. My plan was to cut it down into firewood sized pieces and use the old lumber to build the first fires. I began by removing the slide and the swingset before moving to the clubhouse. I was not prepared for what I found inside. In a child’s handwriting, the first words I saw were:

“Girls Only. No Boys Allowed.”

The entire walls were covered with writing, stick figures and sayings. Included were the clubhouse rules and the names of the girls in the club.

I sat down on the edge of the platform and cried.

As I felt the nostalgia sweep over me, I contemplated not tearing it down.  How could I rid myself of this history?  I stopped my work for the rest of the day. I wasnt sure I could go through with it.

As my emotions conferred with my reason, I came to a conclusion the next day. I’m getting rid of the playfort. I’m not getting rid of my children. This assertion didn’t make the demolition easy, but it did give me pause to think about the beautiful gift of memories.

The playfort served its time. It did what it was supposed to do.

I recall setting the first pieces of wood ablaze in my new backyard feature. The same emotion was there, but I knew I had to face the grief straightaway. I sat back and watched the fire consume the old lumber, and the sense of loss turned to peaceful rest.

It only took minutes to burn down a portion of what took me weeks to build and years for the kids to enjoy. Life is like that fire. What I have and what I have built will be gone in a moment. But until then, I have the choice to invest as much in it as I choose.

Since then, I’ve put many obsolete items in that fire in the same way I burned the playfort. In the picture above is an old table. It was crooked and uneven, causing it wobble when something was set on it. It had been around for years and I wasn’t sure why. So I decided to toss it into the fire one night.  I didn’t need or want it any longer. It served its purpose. Life moves on. And I move with it.

It’s time to build something new.

3 thoughts on “Strange Fire

  1. Moving forward into the beautiful new day. Thank you, Kevin. I needed to hear this today. Many hugs. Victoria

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