Some days my son disappears into the woods.
Armed with nothing but his imagination and sense of adventure, he heads into the woods behind my parents’ house, often with his cousins and friends. He’s done this on gorgeous summer days, drizzly evenings, and crisp snowy mornings.
I’m never exactly sure what he does there, nor do I care to go investigate. I hear the occasional shout and the hard crack of wood against wood, so I know they’re safe.
The woods are the setting for untold stories, and the fallen trees are material for a fort. The darkness is a filter from the rest of the world. There is just enough distance between this forest hideaway and the watchful eyes of parents to allow him freedom to invent without boundaries, to play without rules.
I can’t see my son when he’s in the woods, but this is what I know: I know he is developing his independence, his creativity, and his appreciation for our natural environment.
He may come back to the house bug-bitten, scraped, or splintered, but he comes back happy.
I got to see the efforts of the boys’ hard work. They proudly led me through the woods to their fort, and I was so impressed I went back for my phone so I could share what they had built: