“It’s my own cubby in the middle of the forest,” she said to her father, “and it is special.”
Her father knew that she was feeling juxtaposed with her new hideout in the woods. Rue was an adventurous girl with a heart the size of two large continents put together into one big place. She never saw the bad in anything or anybody. She was just largesse in the way she moved and navigated through life’s obstacles. Her heart made her special, just like her den of trees.
“When I am in the den, I can hear the shaking of the tree branches as the wind rattles my little abode. It’s like music, Daddy!” She was smiling so big with her face full of the light in the room.
“That sounds glorious! I should come and set you up a few things to make it more like a home away from home.”
He was thinking he could put an address sign, a mailbox, and cut down any weeds that may be impeding its beauty.
“Thank you, Dad! That sounds perfect! Let’s go now!”
She pouted a little bit, as any 10-year-old would, but then she smiled and agreed. “I’ll gather supplies, and then I can lead the way through the forest.” She kissed him on the cheek and began her conquest without a hitch.
Dad went to the computer and made her a sign that said, “Den Building” with the family logo at the bottom and laminated it to keep it from getting worn by the weather.
Next came a mailbox made from a coffee can and a piece of particleboard, and then he grabbed a red carpet that he had pushed to the back of the garage. He put everything in the wheelbarrow, put a tarp over the top to hide its contents, and ventured to find Rue.
He saw her standing by the entry of the forest with a backpack of supplies on her back and a walking stick in her right hand. She didn’t speak, she just motioned to him to follow her into the trees that hugged the path of dirt.
Her father followed her to a bright opening with a circular dirt path. It looked like a great place to build a clubhouse. He wished he would have thought of it!
“This is really great, Rue! It’s better than I pictured. Here I brought these things for you.” He handed her the carpet and showed her the mailbox he fabricated for her that said “Folgers” with a slotted door.
Rue quickly grabbed up the mailbox and mounted it in the tree limbs of her den. “Perfect! Right, Dad?”
He nodded in agreement as she put the little carpet inside, crawling with it inside and smoothing it out. “One last thing to put up, sweetie! Do you want to help me?”
Rue popped out of the door head first giggling, “Of course silly! What is it?”
He was hiding the sign behind his back, “Close your eyes, and I will tell you when to open them, okay?”
She had the cheesiest grin on her face when she closed her eyes and anticipated what the surprise was. “Just show me already…I am so excited!”
“1…2…3…Open your eyes!” He held out the sign for her to read, and she jumped up in the air when she read it aloud.
“Den Building, Farm 101,” She read it so fast that she tripped over her words. “L…Let’s put it up there…over there…” She ran over to where she wanted to mount her sign.
Her dad grabbed the hammer and nails he brought from the garage, and he lifted her up to hang the sign on the beat-up old tree.
“You are beautiful now, Mr. Tree! Thanks for holding my sign!” Rue says, and her father smiles.
The tree held her sign until the day she turned the ripe age of 46. She still visits her special place every year in honor of the man who made it even more special, whose ashes rested inside of the Den.
Written for KL Caley’s #writephoto