We have a secret place in our new outdoor classroom that I haven't shown you yet. It's up a steep concrete slope poured years ago as a form of erosion control, amidst the many spindly trunks of the lilacs that grow there. It's there past the windmill and boat, above the sand pit.
If you climb to the top, if you can climb to the top, there is a narrow catwalk along the chain link fence, worn in the dirt by years of children's feet connecting a pair of dusty depressions down amongst the lilac roots.
Above you, at least in the spring and summer, you'll see pieces of the sky through heart-shaped leaves, although the focus here, as it is in all cubbies, forts, and hideouts, is on one another, and inward and outward by way of your imagination.
This is a place to play stories with your friends, a place removed from the adults who might, with the best of intentions, try to steer or correct or even judge the things we are exploring together up in there.
But first you have to get up there and that's not easy. It's a kind of barrier to entry, an initiation even. Many of your attempts end in a slide back down to the bottom on your belly.
Few of the youngest children can make the ascent, so it tends to be a place for the 4 and 5 and 6 year-olds to play their games of adventure, treasure, and danger.
And getting down is an equal challenge.
Sometimes you can just run right down, if you're brave enough, and experienced enough, but it's a problem most often solved by sliding on your bottom, a dirty backside being the evidence you've been somewhere today.
And although it's clear that generations of children have played here before you, you're still a pioneer, each day an adventure as new and ancient as this day's sunrise.