In the side yard, between the driveway and the kitchen window, the camphor tree stretches its wings to heaven. There, between boughs, hangs a trio of hammocks. “A big-boy fort,” my man-son says. He has just returned from first year, and since he rigged these ropes, he hangs, day and night, rain or shine, in a hammock, beneath a silver tarp he strung above. The green macramé is the one he found backpacking through Nicaragua last summer; the blue one is Charlie’s slick, blue, camp gear, and the woven brown one is a mystery. A green, dollar-store hand basket hangs nearby, on its own set of ropes, to hold adventurers’ necessities.
And so they come. All summer they come to the camphor tree, to newfound freedom and the comfort of childhood. They come, these boys I have known since long before beards, boys whose mothers may call to find them, boys who just this year broke away, made a turn and headed down a path I will never know.
Each morning I awaken with the sun and peek through the slats of my kitchen blinds to see cocoons swinging in the grey dawn. Boys, with knees poking out of hanging pods, boys wrapped in Boy Scout bags, boys covered in living room throws and itchy bites. I muse inside the indoor dark, by the window, before coffee, about what kind of man-butterflies will emerge from those wraps at summer’s end.
By midday, those burly boys with overgrown hair and man-appetites will be in my kitchen devouring yesterday’s shepherd’s pie and asking for the car.