Tepee



On Sunday, Numbers Two and Four came looking for blankets to build a fort.

I don’t know how old you have to be before the thought of crouching inside a cave and peeking out of your secret world is no longer appealing, but I know I still have some yearnings in that direction.

I was all in favor. They’re great kids, but there have been a few visits where as the day wore on, everyone spread out around the house, silently staring at screens of one sort or another. It’s the sort of thing that makes me grit my teeth a little.

It was a beautiful September afternoon and I thought we could do better than a blanket draped over a chair. Any requests that didn’t involve electronics of any kind got my full attention.

Since we live in a perpetual construction zone, I sent them all off on missions. They returned triumphant with four 2 x 4’s and a beat up drop cloth. As best I remember, I’ve never built a “tepee,” but by using about a half mile of twine I found in the corner of the shop, we soon had a perfectly functional shelter. It didn’t look quite finished, so I went back out to the shop and brought back two cans of sample paints that hadn’t made the cut for actual use. I started the painting, just to show the kids how it’s done. I tried to do a buffalo head and a pine tree, but, in all honesty, I ended up with something that looked like a cocker spaniel and a palm tree. Not only did the kids do a better job of painting, they managed to do it without getting paint on their clothes, which I found almost miraculous. Number Five had the idea of putting a thick coat of paint on a leaf, and then I think he was going to apply the leaf to our structure, but that seemed like an artistic vision that had the potential to imperil his Sunday best, so I vetoed it in the end. Next time we’ll do a better job with wardrobes.

I spent the afternoon puttering around the yard. The kids played in and around their invention most of the time, but there was one game of multi-generational hide and seek which, with our overgrown ten-acre grove as an arena, could have lasted indefinitely were it not for the last group of hiders being uncovered due to treachery in their midst.

The day wound down early. My father caught a ride back to his apartment shortly after ice cream and coffee. It’s only the second week of school, so everyone needed to get back to do laundry, homework and prepare for the week. There was a delay while families packed up eggs, tomatoes, potatoes, and some freshly canned produce, along with a certain amount of searching for lost shoes and other gear, but soon enough silence descended on the old farm.

This morning I was thinking that breakfast would be fresh coffee and a left-over maple cinnamon roll, but a search of the kitchen didn’t turn up anything too promising. My wife enlightened me. At some point in the afternoon, the roll inventory had been transported to the tepee and from there disappeared.

Oh, well. Toast and coffee works, too.

I have no idea how you spent your Sunday afternoon, but I’m not the least bit jealous.

Copyright 2022 Brent Olson