They wouldn’t let me in the Boy Scouts because I am a girl. I snuck downstairs to my Mom’s den meetings anyway and learned what I needed to do to run away and get a house of my own.
A tree house. I AM only 12. I picked Uncle Morris’s farm because no one would see me there since Uncle Morris is always fixing up the ‘shine’ recipe and then falling down drunk, and my cousins are grown up and moved.
The farm has an orchard with twisted old apple trees and lots of maple trees. No one goes to the orchard anymore, since the boys moved out and the Roxbury Russet apples don’t make good shine.
One maple tree is smack dab in the middle of a circle of apple trees who look they are reaching for each other with bony fingers. I was lucky; the boys had left a ladder made of old leather dog leashes and sturdy horse harnesses dangling from the nearest crotch of the tree to the ground. Climbing up the ladder, I found the crotch to be wide, flat and having excellent look-out potential, since I could see all around the orchard and farm from my perch.
I got my supplies from my brother’s room that Mom has made into her card playing room now that he is stationed over in Afghanistan. I found a camouflage fold- up tent, an orange sleeping bag that looked like a mummy case from the Museum, and a mess kit. I also raided his hidden supply of MREs from the back of his closet that I knew he ate when Mom cooked another of her “experiments”.
Sticking everything in my backpack and my little sister’s Red Wagon, I made the trek to the farm, about three country miles away. I had stashed my Dad’s tool chest in the Red Hex barn next to the orchard.
The tent was light and I was able to scurry up the tree with my loot. I lashed the tent to four sturdy branches and nailed the bottom to the base branch. I placed the sleeping bag where it was the most flat and rolled around on the floor of the tent to get an idea how much room I would have. About as much room as my bathroom at home I figured.
That got me thinking. What would I do when I needed to use the bathroom? Then I remembered the outhouse left over from the ‘good old days’ as Uncle Morris calls them, before he got indoor plumbing. If I closed my eyes, and didn’t look in the hole, I could manage.
Food, bathroom, sleep, what else would a Boy Scout need? Bug spray! Books! (I had my Kindle in my backpack). What more could a boy, er, girl need?
Silence. The first night in the Maple House was almost too quiet. I could hear an owl in the orchard, probably hunting some poor little mouse. I could hear the crickets serenading each other and the bull frog over in the pond. But no TV, no little sis’s Gamebox, no car noise, no human noises at all. I liked it. I slept like a baby.
Not really. I woke up sore and stiff and sweating hot. The sleeping bag must be made for the South Pole and not for Virginia in September.
I stayed in the Maple House for three whole days. When I was hungry, I ate a MRE, which I love, much to the disgust of my Mom. When I had to go to the bathroom, I used the outhouse (which has a pretty crescent moon cut out to let in light when you shut the door). I had lots to read, sunny days, star lit nights. I didn’t miss the TV or the noise. I missed my sister a little, Mom, a whole lot more. But I wanted to show them I could be as brave and independent as a Boy Scout.
Until my world (tent) was invaded by three invading forces. One was teeny tiny, red, and had painfully sharp bites. Fire ants. I guess I left crumbs from my MRE on the floor of the tent, and they were as tasty to the ants as they were to me. The bug spray worked for awhile, but then they got in the sleeping bag and I woke up with millions of little painful welts all over my legs and side and lots of squished ants under my clothes.
A jump in the pond helped take away the pain and washed the remaining fire ants out of my hair. Next invasion was the raccoon family.
The raccoons thought I was the intruder. Using their dexterous hands, they tried to undue my ties and dump my house to the ground. But they couldn’t undo my special double sided, sidewinder knots! They left, after they left me a smelly brown present on the side of the tent.
The last invader evicted me from my home. When I was coming out of the outhouse, I saw a brown bear scurrying up the tree to examine the tent. He lifted the tent straight off the branch. He looked puzzled when it slid to the ground. The wind shifted and the bear sniffed the air. He jumped down to the ground and right into the collapsed tent. When I uncovered my eyes to look again, there he was, running away with my MRE’s.
I moved back home that same day. But I miss Maple House. Maybe I’ll take my little sister there someday. A good Boy (girl) Scout can always rebuild!
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