house in a tree trunkDid you have a treehouse as a child? Or perhaps your kids or grandkids have one now. When I was around 10, my dad built one between two old pines in our backyard. It was very rustic, as treehouses tend to be, and was the size of a small elevator, with a wooden ladder leading up, and walls that had two windows cut out, as well as a door. I remember the strong smell of pine sap and how it creaked as it rocked and swayed in the wind.

The treehouse was a gathering place for granddaddy long legs, which my younger brother took great pleasure in tossing on me while I shrieked. Sometimes, I would hide up there and draw pictures or write in my diary. I have loved being among trees ever since.

Here is Nancy Willard’s idea of a great treehouse. I love it, too! See what you think.

Tree House
by Nancy Willard

Start with a tree,
an old willow with its feet
in the water,
and one low branch to let you in
and a higher branch to let you
and a lookout branch
to show how far you’ve come
(the lake before you,
the woods at your back),

and now you are close
to those who live in these rooms
without walls, without doors:
one nuthatch typing its way up the bark,
two mourning doves calling the sun out of darkness,
three blackbirds folding their wings tipped with sunset,
twelve crows threading the air and stitching
a cape that whirls them away
through the empty sky,

and don’t forget the blue heron
stalking the shallows for bluegills,
and don’t forget the otter backpaddling past you,
and the turtles perched on the the log like shoes
lined up each night in a large family,

and don’t forget the owl
who has watched over you
since you were born.

Be the housekeeper of trees,
who have nothing to keep
except silence.

“Tree House” by Nancy Willard, from The Sea at Truro. © Alfred A. Knopf, 2012.

May we all become the housekeepers of trees!


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