Hush your evil thoughts – this is NOT about sex crimes. No such thing here. It is about tree houses.
There is something special about tree houses. Shel Silverstein nailed it in a little poem:
A tree house, a free house
A secret you and me house
A high up in the leafy branches
Cozy as can be house.
A tree house is a portal to another time. For me, it was 1959-1962 or so, first in the tall pine tree in the home of Patsy Kay across Old Gulph Road and then in the mulberry tree in the backyard of the Gray brothers. It was innocent and childlike and – fun. A tree house is a marker of another time, real or imagined, We perhaps overly romanticize them, as in this small collection of book and magazine illustrations of tree houses put together by Gabby.
So, though, as I walked the streets of Berkeley, I was delighted to see as many tree houses as I saw.
One caution about tree houses – they are even more transient than most of the quirky material culture that I photograph. Children grow older. Parents and neighbors grow less tolerant of boards nailed to trees. Lumber rots. Etc. Tree houses come and tree houses go.
The only tree house that I saw up close and personal is in the backyard (cheating, I know) of the UFO/alien house on Vine Street.
I’d sleep there. I think I would at least. Why not?
Lastly – for now – there are hints of a tree house high in the redwoods on Virginia Gardens, but I couldn’t spot it.
There are more tree houses in Berkeley, I know, and I will be adding to this post as I photograph them.
For me, they evoke green, lush, humid Pennsylvania summers up in a mulberry tree. A tree house is special, a good and safe place to be, shelter from the storm, a safe harbor, peace. Don’t we all wish for that place now? Those few who find it – the lucky ones, no?
I asked my friend about the post. His Detroit childhood did not include tree houses and he isn’t great with heights. That said, he paused extra long looking at the photos of George McNeil’s Vine Street tree house and the ropes going up the redwoods on Virginia Gardens. What was his overall impression?