Home for the summer: New life for treehouse
By: Jan Kent, Lake County News Chronicle
Every spring as we prepare to trek up to our cabin on the North Shore, we fill two cars with this and that. We used to make long, definitive lists of what we might need during the summer, but our style has changed over the years. Now, we tend to stand in each of the rooms of our house and decide what's there that we might want to have in the cabin. Then we put it into a box (or not) and put it in one of the cars. No matter what, we always seem to fill two cars.
Theoretically, we should be able to grab our wallets, the books we are currently reading, hop into our cars and hit the road. After all, we each have a comprehensive northwoods wardrobe in the cabin, including several pairs of boots. There's a kitchen complete with all the things a cook of my caliber needs to get meals together, linens, jigsaw puzzles, clocks, furniture and mousetraps.
We do try to avoid the “coals to Newcastle” thing, meaning that we take rocks south from Minnesota, but never bring them the other way. And lumber – we have plenty of lumber, especially old, used lumber, up north. So normally we wouldn't have eight worn, darkened 2×6 boards tied to the roof of Les' car as we made our way north.
But, this year, we did.
Those boards are all that remain of a treehouse that spent over 10 years in a huge willow tree in the backyard of one of our children’s homes. Our daughter Laura, a self-taught carpenter, built it, and did so without help from anyone else. In my imagination I can close my eyes and be back there--climbing the ladder to a first floor, pushing open the little overhead trap door, climbing the second ladder and going through to the top floor. (Don't forget to close the little door.)
The top platform is about 6 x 5 feet, large enough for a sleep-over, although no one ever slept there. There's a sturdy railing around the whole thing (comfortable to lean on) and a great view of the neighborhood and the willow branches overhead.
The treehouse also had room service. Lemonade, cookies and lunches -- all delivered in a bucket with a rope and pulley system. Everything always tasted wonderful. It was a great place for playing games, reading and dreaming. A few times the occupant capacity was probably exceeded when various aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents climbed those ladders to the top of the treehouse. Sometimes singing was heard coming from that willow tree.
As the years passed, the kids got older, and the willow got much older. Finally a split down the middle of the tree trunk couldn't be ignored, so the weathered boards from the treehouse were rescued, and the tree was taken down.
There was no way the bones of that treasured treehouse could just be burned in the fireplace or put out for garbage pickup; that's the reason those boards made the trip north on top of the car.
Later this summer, Laura and one or two of her kids will be coming to the cabin. We plan to use those boards for a wooden walkway going back into the wetland part of our property. If those 2×6s are as resilient as they seem, maybe a fourth generation of family feet will get to walk those planks and hear the story.