Stay-School Adventures: Spring Cleaning, Days 25-28

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A new welcome sign for the play fort - CAT CUTILLO
  • Cat Cutillo
  • A new welcome sign for the play fort
The swamp next door has become my spirit animal. It takes in toxins, churning them over like a giant strainer and purifying the water. It squeezes the best parts out of bad things — a perfect example of what to do when life gives you lemons.

On Saturday, I was staring out the window, looking at the swamp, when my friend called from Brooklyn to tell me her father had died that morning of COVID-19. I looked at the swamp, trying to churn out something to say.
Spring cleaning in the fort - CAT CUTILLO
  • Cat Cutillo
  • Spring cleaning in the fort
Earlier in the week, my kids had announced they were “moving out.” They spent the week spring-cleaning their play fort in the backyard revamping it into a “permanent” residence. My daughter got the idea from an episode of Fancy Nancy.

The play fort was like a clown car, filled with old balls, bats and baskets overflowing down the slide. I couldn’t believe how much had been crammed in there. We finally had our answers for where all the lost items had been hiding.



I watched my kids hand off piggy banks and miniature furniture to each other, beautifying their nine-square-foot space with a small stool, a tea set and a handcrafted chandelier made from pipe cleaners, tape and ribbon. They asked my husband to wood burn a "Welcome" sign, then secure it over their front door with a drill.
Inside the play fort - CAT CUTILLO
  • Cat Cutillo
  • Inside the play fort
With every passing week of isolation, my kids' imaginations flourish and they connect more with their internal worlds. It's as if the daily costumes are shields, enabling them to create their own realities.

The trash has become their treasure. They even intercepted a tattered rainbow tablecloth on its way to the garbage can. It’s become the portal to their new life.

Cat Cutillo is a Vermont-based photojournalist, writer and video producer. See more of her work here.

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