The Mud-and-Corncob Fort
When I was seven years old, I helped to build a house.
Not a traditional house, mind you, and not a very large house either—this house was the size of a fort that my friends and I used to make out of couch cushions and my mother’s scarves, and it was made out a combination of mud and corncobs rather than wood and good old American nails. Call it a community project, if you will—I was at Solarfest, my regular summertime haunt from before I could walk to the present. The music/renewable energy festival had moved from its comfortable location in my hometown, and, to display how very happy it was to (permanently) reside at Forget-Me-Not-Farm in Tinmouth, some of the volunteers got together and decided to build a little fort on the grounds, just for fun, and would snag passerby during the festival that year, tempting them with mud-covered hands and broken, colored glass to decorate the work in progress with.
It required buckets and buckets of icky, reddish slop, but I was seven; it didn’t occur to me to think about being clean. I dove right in, slopping it on the basic frame that had been set up, smearing layers over the walls already set up, pressing in bits of broken blue bottles in every nook and cranny, and doing my very best to get the dirt all over myself as well. By the end of the day, my mother was horrified to finally locate me, wandering by myself around several food court vendors, living proof that children can be transformed in a matter of hours into living, dusty-red popsicles.
That little mud-and-corncob house still stands on the festival grounds to this day, and every year, I go and sit in it (with less wiggle room each year) and admire the handiwork of everyone that helped that day. Sometimes, over the laughter and dull roar of chatter that surrounds me, I can hear music from the main stage. Other times, I can’t hear anything and just sit and watch small children playing tag, unsupervised by any adult figures—because that’s the sort of festival that Solarfest is. I was wandering around those considerably-sized grounds by myself at a very early age, because of the simple fact that just walking underneath the larger-than-life puppets that herald the entrance gives you a sense of peace, of belonging, of safety. I have been going to this festival since before I could walk, and every year, that moment when I walk through the burlap-and-garden-stake arches remains the most positive of my entire summer—dare I say year.
Everyone should go to Solarfest this year! Tickets are $15 for a day pass, and with it you'll have the time of your life! (And if you're already planning to go this year, I salute you!)