Building A Better Fort

Lily came tearing down the companionway and back to the aft cabin to accost me with her news.

“Ms. Tammy said I can help her back to her boat with her laundry. We are going to ask Mr. Dylan to come see our fort. He is really good at making forts and Ms. Tammy said he might have some ideas for us.”

I am like, “Huh? Slow down. Where are you wanting to go? Ask Dylan what?”

“With Ms. Tammy. She is here at our dock to see if it is ok. Pllllease! Mr. Dylan is really good at building forts.”

She is actually shaking her fists in desperation because I am having such difficulty understanding the importance of this offer for expert advice.

Sure enough, Ms. Tammy was waiting on the pier next to the boat to see if Lily can walk with her back to her boat. No not me. Another Tammy. Picture a very young Nicole Kidman. Her strawberry blond hair is braided and she is wearing cowboy boots, short shirts and a cute tee. I momentarily consider asking her to stand there while I get my camera. I really think I could sell her picture to a magazine. But it seems like a strange request to make so I just admired her boots. Any sailor who makes room in her boat’s hanging locker for cowboy boots has my enthusiastic thumb’s up.

She confirms that Lily is invited back to her boat to discuss fort building with her husband Dylan. It seems unlikely that Dylan will be interested in this endeavor but I give the OK and they are off.

Tammy and Dylan return with Lily about 30 minutes later. I get the feeling that Dylan has looked over the current fort – a small clearing under the mangroves – and scratched his head over the site challenges. But he has given Lily an assignment of drawing up some plans and seeing what supplies she can round up in the way of palm fronds and salvaged pieces of wood from the trash cans. As they turn away to leave, Lily immediately starts begging me to put my drawing skills to use in this assignment. Yes, I have been drawing some these days so I am sure Lily figures I want to finally contribute something of use – blueprints for a model mangrove fort.

Of course, I am pretty sure their building site is, unfortunately, too prime waterfront real estate for what they have envisioned. Sure, Lily has been involved in fort construction in both Marathon and St. Petersburg City Marina. However, in Marathon, the ruffians had bargaining power. Some things do come down to the numerical. There were so many of them and too few of us. They were loud, unruly and took over the tv in the captain’s lounge. To keep peace, they were, unofficially of course, practically given the mangroves as long as their salvaged building material did not obstruct the walkway and no attacks were made against any adults who wandered accidentally into their territory. Yes, they know their American history in Marathon.

To put things in perspective, a fort of dead branches and discarded fenders wasn’t really an eyesore in Marathon. It might have actually improved the view by blocking from sight a derelict boat or two. On the other end of the spectrum, St. Pete’s City Marina, certainly, would frown upon any collection of trash by the young residents of the marina. But the City Marina fort had been strategically built under draping palm fronds behind the dumpster and recycling receptacles. They were pretty minimalist with fort furnishings. It was mainly a place to gather and watch for “security.” If security was spotted, they froze in place behind their palm fronds, quietly watching security’s movements until the coast was clear. To this day, when we visit City Marina, Lily is prone to all the sudden whisper “security” and disappear behind a palm tree.

Which brings us to the present. The fort they have been working on sits in the landscaped area between Bayboro café’s pretty outdoor patio and the equally postcard suitable Harborage Marina office. There is just zero chance that dead palm fronds and salvaged dumpster items are going to stay in place no matter how friendly they are with Ms. Jane, Ms. Carol and the Harborage staff. The only good option is scouting out a more secluded location but that means going a little beyond the perimeter of what the parents have heretowith allowed. Oh the difficulty of being both a kid and an ambitious fort builder.

Since I did not get a picture of either the fort location under consideration or Ms. Tammy I will direct you to my previous picture of the Marathon Ruffians. Doesn’t this picture help explain their ability to negotiate their own territory?

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