For the last week I have been playing hookie from life. I have been taking care of my brother's kids while he has been on the day shift. Mostly it has been from the time they get out of school until he gets to my house from work about 6:40 PM. My mom helps but she is 81. She usually cooks a meal for them unless we have pizza or something from a fastfood place. But this week has been spring vacation.
I decided I would babysit them at their dad's house so they could be with their friends. But one of the boys wanted to go bike riding. We got his bike ready, and I rode his dad's. We went back into a wooded area off of Oakdale where he could do some jumps by going down a hill, up another hill, and get maybe a foot of the ground for about three feet. Later in the afternoon I took his younger brother along, and his friend. The older boy complained, but when he found out the younger ones would not cramp his style he accepted them (though grudgingly).
Sunday their dad had them (except for the time the family gathered for an Easter dinner). On Monday I went to his place, and the boys (especially one neighbor kid) spent the morning trying to get the bikes repaired. I made a trip to get a chain tool, and a chain (in case we needed it). We then spent an hour fixing chains. Finally, we were off. This time we went through a light rain to a path that led down to Otter Creek. The boys decided to build a bridge. There were four of them. They split into two teams, and I went with the younger. We found dead limbs on the other side of the trail. I suggested we put the limbs between trees grown close together, and break them off into manageable sections to span the creek. We settled on about 10 feet.
The older boys just piled their limbs into the creek until it was the equivalent of a dam which you could cross at your peril. OUR bridge looked nice, but when I tried to cross it I got a good soaking. Lesson 1: pretty is nice, functional is better.
When we went back today the bridges were gone. Maybe the rains had raised the creek, and floated them away. Maybe another group of kids decided to undo what we did. I told them the fun was in the building, not the owning. Today I brought two short tree saws that I could fit in my backpack, a hammer, a few nails (which we never used), and a chisel. I guess my nickname could be "Packmule". I was not about to bring a hatchet or ax since I was watching boys 8, 10, 11, and 2×12. I observed what they were doing, and set one firm rule: only dead limbs from the ground. We found a y-shaped limb to use as a saw buck and set to work.
Eventually we completed a bridge from the odds and ends we found. This time took me back to when I was a boy, and my friends would head to a woodlot to work off some energy, and use our imagination. Watching these boys take a wasteland, and turn it into something to test their imagination with was probably one of the most enjoyable things I've done in a while. Thank god that everything in this city is not developed yet.