We had a peak day at our house this week. A beautiful fall day here in the Piedmont of North Carolina means temps reaching almost 80, and the kids and I spent hours outside. We pulled a huge pile of weedy grass; the mound was taller than my 4 year-old son! The open space we cleared will be great room for pretend-play at the edge of our woods. My daughter had fun using her kid scissors to trim grass, while my son got to use grown-up clippers to cut sweet gum suckers down. (If you don’t know what sweet gum are, you’re lucky. Trees often planted in new housing developments because they grow so quickly, they also send saplings up from almost anywhere along their roots.)
My boy discovered a young sweet gum tree 10 feet high but only about 1 1/2 inches in diameter that had split at the base of the trunk. The tree was lying almost horizontally across our newly cleared meadow. He got the small saw his grandfather had given him and started working steadily and persistently until he sawed through the trunk! Then he picked the whole tree up and carried it to the woods, being careful to notice where I and his little sister were so we didn’t get hit by the branches. (All in his free-flowing pink top with a black-and-white dalmatian on it.)
We also found an opening at the base of a large tree that the kids decided was a fairy house. They hunted for moss and the best leaves to make a carpet, and picked the perfect rocks to make a table and chairs. They both have had so much fun in the days since thinking of little gifts to leave for the fairies (lemon balm for tea, an acorn half for a cup) and checking to see if they have visited the house.
That is a description of a good day, and a description of well-rounded masculinity.