When he was little my son Reuben would play "Army" in an area of the yard that was too hard to reach with the lawn mower. Subsequently the piece of land grew wildly and a bit out of control with foliage. From time to time I would try to clear it but each time I did I faced the wrath of a little kid that refused to called into the house until all of his missions were complete. There was a neighbor that I met only when she found me in the supermarket because Reuben was with me. She said "Oh, you don't know the joy this boy brings me every morning." She continued to tell me how she takes her cup of coffee and a breakfast bar nearly every day to the window just to watch Reuben play because from her point of view she can see him clearly - - she explained to me how he was completely in control of the invisible soldiers that he commanded, how he barked out orders, then swung around to play the part of each soldier taking orders. She was sorry to see Reuben go to high school. (Little did she know that he played every waking moment of his life then as well, but it was in the front yard with imaginary spectators watching him tackle the invisible quarterback.)
My parents live on a patch of land in the country where they have at least a half acre of what is called "Reuben's Patch" because over the years he would go into the wooded, overgrown weeds and vines to "hunt", "stake out the bad guys" or just be "at war". It was a perfect place for a kid with his size of an imagination. I remember looking at a piece of property with Laura about a year ago when Reuben was still in the Army. The backyard had 8 acres of land and in the far corner was a spot that would have been Reuben-esque. There were trees reaching to the sky and it seemed that their fat bushy pine branches were hovering over one another guarding the entry way, blocking out the would be humans who may have desired to destroy them for the sake of being able to see to the other side of the property line. This was truly a haven for the boy-man who would be coming to visit and need a place to hide with his mind!
Well, where I live now has four patios and no yard. I live on a golf course with acres and acres of wooded lands, creek beds, and places I know my son could sneak in, hide in, pop out, and scare the be-jeebies out of the golfers if he wanted to. However, something tells me he would refrain a bit at his age; but probably JUST a bit. One of my patios is about 12x15. It is gated, and has a concrete floor if you will. I have not touched it since we moved in. I have allowed it to grow over with vines, limbs, flowers, weeds, and all the leaves and pine needles that can possible gather do indeed gather there. It is a place I find quite peaceful - - and probably a place that raccoons and skunks like as well, I don't know. I call it my little patch of Reuben. When I get the hankering to think about him I open up the curtain and look outside. Since it's gated and fenced off no one sees it from the outside. I've been asked by the association to trim it down, but again because it's behind the fence I don't actually have to. I told them no, and addressed the fact that it brings me joy. If a critter really did live in it I would probably chase it out - - but I don't think it's housing anyone. It's just a little tranquil spot that screams "Hey Mom, MOM, MOM, MOOOOOOOMMMMMMMM.....bring me the Oreos please!