With the extra material the plans for the deck of the tree house change. The triangle becomes a quadrilateral. Each of our four sides ends up being a different length because of the way the branches of the tree have grown. After trying everything from bracing a two by four on the bumper of my dad’s car to one of us standing on a two by four while the other works the saw we find that if we nail the two by four into place on the tree we can take turns with the saw and eventually get the board to the proper length. Without the use of a level we determine level by looking across the boards.
“Up just a little,” Ricky instructs. I already have a nail started and nailed completely through the board; all it needs is a quick tap with the hammer in my right hand to tack it into place.
“How’s that?” I ask while keeping my feet planted firmly on the ladder, my left arm wrapped around a branch and pushing up on the two by four with my left hand from the backside of the board.
“Just a hair more,” Ricky replies as he squints from the first board we nailed to the one I am holding. I nudge the board up another quarter of an inch.
“There!” he shouts and I give the head of the nail a quick hit with the hammer. Once the board is held by the nail I can adjust my hold on the tree and get a better angle to finish hammering in the nail. Each end of each board gets two of our longest, thickest nails. As soon as all four of our foundation joists are in place we lay our fence planks side by side across the two by fours giving us a place to sit while we nail them into place. I hammer three nails into the West side of a plank, hand the hammer to Ricky and he hammers the three nails into the East side of the plank. It’s much faster, easier work now that we have a comfortable place to sit. My father wants his ladder back so we head for Ricky’s garage. Ricky’s garage is piled high with boxes on every wall and there is no way a car could ever fit inside but it is a great source for specialty items, like a way to get up to our tree house.
“How’s this?” Ricky holds up an old wooden stepladder. “It’s way too short but we could nail it half way up the trunk” I can tell he doesn’t like the idea any more than I do so we keep looking.
I find three short planks held together by thin ropes Ricky’s mother must have made to hold potted plants, “how’s this?” I ask knowing it won’t work but I ask anyway just to let Ricky know I’m still looking.
“Rope.” Ricky says. I know he’s on to something from the satisfied look on his face but I have no idea what he means. I tilt my head sideways like a German Shepherd dog. “We can tie a length of rope to a branch and climb the rope to get up to the tree house.” With this decided our search narrows to a search for a good, thick rope, which we find by going through only about twenty boxes.
I hold the ladder while Ricky ties the rope to a branch above our deck with a couple of good knots.
“Try it,” he says as the ladder is laid on the grass. I grab the rope and climb hand over hand, pushing with my feet. Ricky watches my slow progress from the ground. I make it to the platform breathing hard, my hands sore. “We should put some knots in the rope,” Ricky states, already putting a knot in the rope about a foot up from the ground. He ties a knot every foot or so. He ties a forth knot about four feet up and starts his ascent. As he reaches the deck, not nearly as winded as I was, we pull up the rope and set to work tying four more knots.
“Hey, this works for keeping unwelcome guests from coming up,” Ricky notices while we tie the knots. We sit on our newly completed tree house deck looking out on the world from our perch.