I Shall Look Down Upon You From My Treetop Perch…

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009 | Blogging

…in which I talk about why I would spend a week in a treehouse, rather than a tent or an underground bunker.

There is something fantastical and magical about treehouses. While a tent still gets you out in the wilderness, and has the advantage of being portable, a treehouse is a symbol of childlike wonder. A treehouse is a iconic image of carefree childhood, of a time where you needn’t follow social rules. Your house could be anywhere and your imagination turned it into anything. Your treehouse was your bastion in the sky from everything that hunted and haunted you.

I grew up in Connecticut, in a house that was embedded deep within the New England wilderness. As Heather can now attest to, I grew up in an infinitely small town in the middle of a wooded nowhere in a house that was designed to blend into its rustic surroundings while retaining a modern style.

IMG_0598The entire southern side of our house was glass so that we could look out upon the woods that densely surrounded us, which we were nestled into. I came from trees and have always longed to return to trees. And yet, with all this arboreal background, I never had a treehouse. It’s something that I always wanted but never had. I think my father was too busy building the house to build a treehouse. I can’t blame him; owning a home is hard enough. Building one by hand can only be attributed to insanity sprinkled with just a touch of pride.

But while a tent would be nice, to be down amongst the underbrush, I still have an innate need for structure. I’m a firm believer in walls, floors, and a ceiling. I like the idea of having a solid platform below me, rather than a tarp on the ground. I’ve always felt like air mattresses in tents were cheating. A tent serves one purpose, to shelter you from the elements. It is, in itself, not a structure, but more a barrier, the wilds of nature pressing up against it on all sides. That includes the ground. On the occasions that I have spent in a tent, there is a symbiosis gained from being in such close proximity to the ground, to feel the humps and hollows of the earth beneath you. Using an air mattress defeats the simplicity of a tent, and thus makes it something else. So to choose between a tent and a treehouse, I would have to go with a treehouse, because a treehouse, by definition, is still a house. And as we all know, a house can be furnished, simply or extravagantly.

But what about the underground bunker, you say? Well, as much as an underground bunker has an interesting appeal in it’s rarity and uniqueness, it’s complete segregation from the sun and the elements pretty much makes it unappealing to me. If I were hiding from invading forces or a supernatural threat, then yes, give me my bunker. But if I’m just trying to get away from everything and live differently for a week, a bunker is just too much like the institutional buildings in which I work every day.

So give me a treehouse, set well above the ground in a sturdy, healthy ancient tree. It shouldn’t be one of those expansive ultra modern stilt houses build around a tree. It should be something simple and traditional, the likes of the treehouses seen in movies such as Bridge to Terabithia or Hallam Foe. Fill it with trinkets and curb furniture and I will gladly spend my week above, looking down and out at the world around me.

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