I often wonder why simple summer experiences gave me such pure joy as a kid?
Why was it so thrilling to walk barefoot in the sand? Or eat an ice cream cone? Or run through a sprinkler? Or search for gold in a brook? Or discover a chocolate Easter egg behind the couch in August? Or turn cartwheels all the way across a field?
Probably nothing delighted me more than slipping into small, secret spaces, like a tent or a tepee or, best of all, an indoor fort . . . which involved sheets and blankets strewn across tables and chairs. And if I got to spend the night in my fort — that magical portal into a parallel universe — my life was complete.
I remember building a particularly elaborate fort with a friend one summer evening, with designated rooms including a “kitchen” area stocked with illicit snacks. But in the middle of the night, when we were sound asleep, our fort suddenly collapsed. The effect was so startling (horrifying really), the magic instantly vanished. From then on, I always double-checked every corner of my fort to make sure it was secure.
I can still detect sparks of childhood bliss occasionally when I speed downhill on a bike, or spot a tiny toad in the woods, or soak in a thunderstorm on the front porch. But in some ways, like a kid in summer, I’ve never stopped trying to create the perfect fort . . . a secret refuge that never fails me, where my imaginary world is cozy and safe, and full of endless possibilities.