Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A Natural Hobby~

I'm not exactly sure when it began, but when I was young I found it hard to find something to do around a campsite in the afternoon on the day before checking out. The main attractions of the vacation had already been visited during the previous days, but the day before leaving was sometimes dull for a little kid around dinner time. My family always had lots of fun things to do, but when the parents wanted to sit around the campfire and talk, we had to find ways to entertain ourselves. While my sister colored in coloring books and picked flowers, I began what is now one of my favorite things to do: building little houses.

I vaguely remember my first stick-house, and the campground I first built it at has been misplaced in the memory banks, I'm afraid. But what I started then turned into a campground tradition.

First, I would look for a place on the campsite that was ideal for building. Once found, I would gather up materials, such a sticks, stones, fallen bark, moss, grass, pine needles, all that jazz, and settle down on a rock or plastic bag. Then would begin the building process. My techniques developed quickly throughout the many years of camping, and in one case I even built a cute little adobe hut beside a lake. Someone had left pistachio shells on the shore, so I made a big batch of mud and made the foundation, building up the walls with the shells as support. My grandma said she saw a couple staring down at my finished house the next morning, smiling.

The houses grew more elaborate as not only my imagination flew, but also as my skill skyrocketed from one house to the next. I would build gardens, lay intricate stone pathways, I even made stone floors on the insides of the houses sometimes. The houses even stood up to the weather. The house pictured here, built under a tree here at home, stood for about two years. It was flattened when gardening needed to be done, but I gladly redecorated it for whichever season it was while it stood. These are the first pictures of it after it was built.

Being at home let my full creativity flow out with endless materials at hand, and I still consider this one of my masterpieces (the other being the adobe by the lake. I wonder if it still stands or if the lapping waves slowly washed it away...?). I built it as a lean-to with several thick sticks, all snapped at the right size. I then built a walkway with pea gravel and some slate chips from the driveway. Next came the gardens, for which I happily uprooted several clumps of grass and flower, made a fence, added in rocks for decoration, then firmly stuck twigs and sprigs of plants in for trees. The roof was also "thatched" with clumps of the same little flowers.

I was quite proud of it, seeing how it lasted, mostly in tact for those many months, and through many downpours that I thought surely would have washed it away. It still stood proudly, beaten by the elements, but standing nonetheless.

I've never been able to build a house at the same park twice, but apparently it doesn't matter if I'm home. In February, during some freakish warm weather, I built the first in my series of homes. One rather tropical in style.

I was running on a just-finished-reading-an-amazing-book-and-am-now-feeling-creative rush when I began building with apple branches. It quickly turned into an adorable creation, so I ran around my yard in a happy frenzy collecting things I thought I would need, carrying everything back under Maggie, the very large and old magnolia tree. My little sister watched in awe as my hands worked, knowing exactly what to do and how to do it. Years of experience made them quick, and soon the vacation home was finished. Upon completion, I found I had a slight sunburn across the back of my neck, but it was worth it. It has always been worth it to make things like these.