A few weeks ago a bunch of the neighborhood kids started working on a fort built around a dead tree that had fallen on a strange triangle of land that was incredibly overgrown and wild; it was always unclear who owned this sliver of land and it seemed like the perfect place to build a fort. One day we brought out a picnic and a bunch of tools and built a huge wall from the fallen tree to another tree to completely enclose the fort, then inside the kids built booby traps and lookout posts. My daughter built a swing in there. We brought over kid-sized chairs and added a flagpole. The whole thing was pretty awesome.
Of course, such a bustle of positive activity invokes the Tyree Guyton Rule here in Detroit, which is, of course, Any time you try to do something positive with others' neglect, someone will finally pay attention and come along to tear it down. One day one of the sweet neighbor boys showed up on my porch, nearly in tears: "They tore down our fort!" No one knows who "they" were. They came while no one was looking and took it all away, including the dead tree. They even mowed the feral triangle.
The next day, the kids looked out into our park and saw that someone else had installed a lovely tire swing on the tree they already loved to climb in and play around while I threw a frisbee to the dog.
Now our afternoon dog walks are so much more fun. For some strange reason when they swing on that thing they shout "Opa!" like the waiters in Greektown do when they set their cheese on fire. It's really weird. They are very curious about who might have put the swing there, but I've stressed that the mystery is just another good part of living where we do.
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