The line between craziness and great artistry is, of course, exceedingly blurry. Thus when my wife said "You're crazy!" upon hearing of my plans for a treehouse, I anticipated that I was heading in the direction of a wonderful artistic creation.
Now, the prophecy has been fulfilled -- mostly due to Jim, a friend who also happens to be our housecleaner. (It's nice to have your home cleaned by someone who also can sharpen your chain saw blade, dig out deep tree roots, and build a tree house).
Since Jim has a granddaughter about the age of my own (three), and immediately shared my exuberance for constructing a structure that had no purpose other than fun, our planning for the tree house design went smoothly.
Especiallly after my wife walked away with a "whatever...," realizing that her attempts to interject some womanly practicality into the project were being met with two sets of male deaf ears.
Jim said he could get some peeler cores from a mill up in the Santiam Canyon where he used to work. I'm a bit vague about how peeler cores are produced; I do know they're the leftover round core of a log that has been used for other wood products.
I liked the idea of round supports and railings -- much more natural looking than rectangular boards, since trees are round, not square. We also agreed that getting up to the tree house should be along a board path that followed the sloping trunk of the leaned-over tree which called to me one day: "I should be a tree house!"
From the downhill side, the tree house reflects the union of man and nature. The dual trunks of the leaning tree are both under and over the structure. The tree house neither supports, nor is supported by, the tree, being simultaneously freestanding and an integral part of what nature has created.
As summer ended and fall grew closer, I loved watching the tendrils of new ferns shoot from the mossy trunks of the tree. Before I stained the tree house, I washed the wood with deck cleaner, carefully putting plastic over the trunks to protect the living vegetation.
You can see that the ferns are happy living beneath the tree house. There are two coats of stain on the underside of the boards and peeler core supports. I also used a foam brush to get stain between the boards, which I've never done on a deck before.
About halfway through my quasi obsessive-compulsive crack-filling and staining -- for a tree house that is almost out of sight of our house, and won't attract many visitors besides me, I, and myself (along with my granddaughter, when she graces us with a journey from southern California) -- I realized that what I was working on wasn't a play house or any other sort of functional structure, but a work of art that could not be understood by anyone who applied mundane cost/benefit thinking to it.
(Translation: anyone means my wife, since she would frequently say, after I returned from an afternoon's stint of artistic expression, "That tree house sure is taking a lot more time to finish than you expected, right?" Wrong, I'd reply, wondering whether Michelangelo was married, and if so, whether his wife griped at him about how long it was taking to get that damn Sistine Chapel painted.)
I like how the tree is continuing to grow from beneath the bottom step. My artistic vision always was to have a walkway parallel the slope of the trunk, so visitors would have a "tree-climbing" experience. This is another example of how artists are not understood by those lacking their sensitivity, since my wife would say, "Why not just have a ladder going up to the platform?" (I assume she also would have told Michelangelo to draw stick figures so as to make his work simpler.)
The mats turned out to be desirable when I discovered how slippery the lower walkway section is, especially when wet. The slope of the tree made it steeper than the upper section, reflecting a philosophical life lesson that artists like me find unnecessary to put into words. (Except when I slipped on the unmatted boards, nearly fell with a gallon can of stain in my hand, and said "Holy f#@k!!")
Ah, the summit. But can there be an end to anything? A large limb darts through the boards, reminding us that on whatever artificial belief structure we stand, natural reality punctures our pretenses and leads our gaze upward.
I smoothed on the crack filler with a gloved finger, rather than a putty knife. This left bumps and ridges that often are indistinguishable from natural irregularities in the lumber. Where a lesser mind would see poor construction work, an elevated vision like mine recognizes... artistry.
Most men appear never to have considered what a house is, and are actually though needlessly poor all their lives beause they think that they must have such a one as their neighbors have.
...I had three pieces of limestone on my desk, but I was terrified to find that they required to be dusted daily, when the furniture of my mind was all undusted still, and threw them out of the window in disgust.
How, then, could I have a furnished house? I would rather sit in the open air, for no dust gathers on the grass, unless where man has broken ground.