Friday, October 17, 2014

Dismantling a Dream

Since visiting Disney World when I was a teenager, I have loved treehouses. The Swiss Family Robinson part of the park sold me on the wonders of living in tight, handmade quarters high up off the ground. I have dreamed for many years of one day having the chance to make one of my own. In 2006 we purchased (or began a handy arrangement with a bank to live on) 3.25 acres of forest with a house on it. 

In 2007 I began building my treehouse. Soon I had Phase 1 finished and had moved on to Phase 2. Soon after the floorboards started going down on Phase 2, My Lovely daughter was born; and everything non-parental in my life slowed down. Including treehouse construction.

Fast forward to the spring of 2014, when my construction-savvy brother came visiting. He noticed that the growth of the treehouse-hosting trees was pushing the boards off their anchor bolts. Slowly but surely, my treehouse was becoming a disaster waiting to happen.

So over the last three months, my treehouse has come down. Rather than let it turn into a decrepit shambles hanging in the distant trees, I decided to give it a proper end.

Here is the roof, torn off the rafters and sent drifting to the ground:
 Phase 1 without a roof (note that the condemnable wooden ladder has been replaced by a safe aluminum one):
 The only proper end for wood that's been hanging out dutifully in a tree for seven years is sublimation in a funeral pyre:
 Phase 1 with rafters and half of the railing gone:
 Where my foot went through the deck, proving another facet of my brother's concern:
 View from below Phase 1, after the decking was removed:
 The first night of returning the elements to whence they came:
And My Lovely assistant, who is ever ready to help on such solemn occasions:

Phase 1 with only two whole boards left. I cut the main joists, because of what you'll see in the next image:
Seven years of growth consumed more of the shafts of the lag screws, pushing the (rotting) wood outwards. An attempt to unscrew the lags met with significant resistance. Of course! A hard wood like maple would certainly grip the screws ever tighter over time. I decided to leave them in, and mark the tree for anyone who might show up with a chainsaw.
All the while, autumn was falling. So my Two Wee Helpers took frequent breaks to enjoy the crackling shower of lofted leaves:

Phase 1 with only screwed-on chunks left:
Phase 2: the next target for demolition:
 An example of where the rotted board had torn off its anchors, leaving one joist precariously perched:
Only the three joists left on Phase 2:

It turns out the lag screws did come out of the soft hemlock:
The free-floating triangular support that held up one half of Phase 2, on its way to the ground:
Emboldened by my success on the hemlocks, I made another attempt to get the screws out of the maple tree. With some persistence and lots of grunting, I did finally get the screws loose, dismantling even the last scabs of wood from Phase 1.

Lastly, the maple tree that hosted Phase 1, stripped naked but for a few holes and the green paint with which I had marked it:

Adieu, fair Treehouse! Though it lacks a structure of which to brag, this little stand of trees will hold for me memories of brilliant plans, time with teenagers, and adventures with my Two Wee Ones. It was worth it.

~ emrys