This summer, thanks to a timely inquiry with the utility company, we had a large, mostly-dead pine tree in our side yard chopped down. I arrived home from work one afternoon to see the chunks of stumps and logs jumbled in the yard like oversize Jenga pieces. Well, boys being boys, it didn’t take long for the climbing to begin. Soon, my sons clambered over the fortress of logs like it was Morder itself. One day, they undertook to plot the swiftest course around, up, and over the logs in an activity they dubbed their “ninja training.”
From our kitchen window, with our adult eyes, my wife and I saw clutter in need of cleaning up; my children saw a golden opportunity for some epic play. When it was time to finally clear up the stumps, we capitulated and hauled them to an old garden plot in the backyard, where we constructed a proper ninja training ground.
A few weeks later, following the delivery of two dump trucks full of topsoil to the same side yard, a large Mound of Dirt appeared, nearly six feet high at its peak. In the period after the delivery, before we could arrange for a tractor to smooth out the Mound, my boys – you guessed it – scaled that thing like it was Mount Everest, creating routes to the summit from nearly every angle. I even looked out the window one afternoon to see a stick with a rag tied to it poking out of the top of the pile. Apparently, someone who had summited wanted all other climbers to know whose claim it was. Then there was the day after it rained and the Mound became a massive mud pit. Enough said.
I can’t tell you how many times my children’s fertile imaginations have turned ordinary objects into catalysts for play. Laundry baskets, tin cans, milk jugs, pillows – all the stuff of ordinary life becomes an opportunity to play. And I’m suspecting this isn’t unique to my household alone. You’ve probably got your own Mound of Dirt stories, too. They’re the ones for the memory books.