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Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Tree House

By Lyn Burnstine of The Lynamber Times

When a child, I always wished for a tree house. As an adult, I was thrilled to visit and explore the Swiss Family Robinson tree house at Disney World, (under the guise of taking my own children, of course), and imagine myself living in it. With all those tourists elbowing me to hurry up the stairs built into the branches of the fake tree, it took a strong imagination to picture myself marooned on an island, but I managed.

I never got my tree house, but I certainly spent many childhood hours happily perched in tree branches, especially my beloved persimmon tree at my grandmother’s southern Illinois farm. I spent most of the summers of my youth outdoors, loving the feel of air surrounding me.

As an adult, I spent a week or two each summer for twenty years in a place – Star Island – where one lived mostly outside. Added to that were the summer weeks spent at Pinewoods Folk Music and Dance Camp at Omega Institute and camping at Fox Hollow Festival – all places where life was lived al fresco.

Coming back from those experiences to the confinement of a house or apartment felt airless and stifling.

I had a wonderful, big screened-in porch in my house in the woods for seventeen years, but that pre-dated my serious writing. The closest I ever came to my ideal writing studio was my friends’ house for whom I house- and dog-sat for a week about ten years ago.

The house had an airy screened-in porch set high enough off the ground that it felt like a tree house. I had just begun writing a memorial piece on May Sarton, who had just died, and I wanted to finish it quickly and get it submitted in a timely fashion.. So I brought my big, cumbersome elephant of a computer and set it up on the porch.

I worked days and evenings, writing, then refining, the tribute to May. The surroundings, fueled by bird sounds and deer sightings, worked their magic and the essay became the lead article in a regional arts magazine – one of my first published pieces.

What you don’t need to know, but are going to learn anyway, is that in my total naivete about computers, I didn’t realize how deadly that hot, moist air could be and it killed my computer.

My first-draft writing space now alternates between various hard-seated wooden benches spaced around our residence’s Edenic grounds in the warm months, and my bedroom-office when it is too cold or hot to be outside. I do have to go inside when it’s time to edit, since I don’t have a laptop computer. But my third-floor room looks out on tree tops, so it feels like an aerie, with sweet bird song and summer insect music coming through my open windows.

How could I make it more idyllic? Well, for one, a laptop, so I could stay out longer. If I didn’t have to close my windows against the oppressive summer heat and if there were only bird and insect melodies to listen to and not the infernal car honking, buses and loud people, it could be nearly ideal.

My perfect writing space would have entire walls of screening; perfect lighting that mimics the daylight inside, while still being able to see the stars, the moonlight and the fireflies outside; and a way to surround myself day and night with the nature sounds that I love – birds, insects, ocean waves and whales.

It would be heavenly to have a personal handmaiden deliver tall, frosty glasses of tea and lemonade, and offer shoulder rubs on cue. Okay, we’re dreaming here, so anything is possible. In order to have the climate to enjoy it year-round, it would probably require that I move to Hawaii. If you’re going to dream, you might as well dream big.

[EDITORIAL NOTE: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Instructions for submitting are here.]

[EDITORIAL NOTE: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Instructions for submitting are here.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 02:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post

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