I also still hear the screeching of the hawk family in the nest atop the camouflage tree, though the birds moved on a year ago.
The screech was a familiar sound, because the cry of these hawks is the exact same sound that the Nazgul dragons make in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movies.
I would feel a momentary tinge of terror each time I heard the shriek, my heart overriding my mind.
Then the sensation of amazement arrives, that this dragon sound was in fact the real call of a bird of prey.
There be dragons, after all.
The mind itself might be the worst sort of fire-breathing dragon, capable of such power and destruction.
As my mom began to lose her mind to altzheimer’s, she cut the trees of my childhood.
It started the day she stepped on the bottom rung of the tree-house my father built. The rung snapped, she cut her leg on a nail, and subsequently called an arborist to remove the “dangerous” house and all the surrounding trees.
The rung had been broken for years. As kids we imagined it some sort of adult-proof booby-trap, which turned out to be reality. But now I was off at college and without it’s trap the tree-house was defenseless.
I came home to a pile of chain-saw shavings on the ground.
When my father died, his things followed. The sailboat that spent years parked in the garage disappeared, along with it imaginary journeys across the sea and the seemingly endless hiding places for tic-tac packages. The VCR, the old TV, the red recliner that served as a refuge in games of hot-lava. Tools were sold, lost or forgotten. The treehouse might have been his longest-standing legacy, were it not for the bottom step.
Mom struggled with how to parent through the pain of loss, and two or her core strategies were to take us to speak with child psychologists (not great) and Home Depot (genius!) to purchase as much lumber as we wished. In its heyday, the original treehouse was a structure three-stories high with a rope-swing that could only be used to full fun (aka danger) with the assistance of other children. One would climb on the roof of the tree-house, then onto the upper-deck, level with the roof. And in times of true bravery, a climb to the upper-upper deck above that one for a legendary swing into the dogwood trees, which at night glowed like the stars and gave the illusion of actually piloting the Millenium Falcon into hyperspace.
The original tree-house went, and eventually the other five constructed by my brother did too, along with the trees that held them. Eventually, even mom went — to a nursing home. And I went, with my family, to the Carolinas, then Alabama, then Africa.
But the trees of my childhood still exist in my mind. I still make B-52 bombers in the pine straw. I construct a legendary fort in the fallen branches of the backyard. I hang ziplines and ride rope swings.