Offcuts: Treehouses By: Don Heisz

There once was a play structure behind my house. I use the term generously, though, since it was more of a death trap than anything else. It had been recycled from some playground at some point by the previous owners of my house. I let my kids play on it but kept an eye out for the day it would fall over.
It never did fall over on its own. I knocked it down, instead. I reused much of the wood making my temporary front steps.
My front steps are temporary, since I plan on making changes to the entranceway of my house. They’ve been temporary for 3 or 4 years, now.

I’ve seen a great many contraptions set up in peoples’ back yards. Now, you must admit, everyone loves a treehouse. Or perhaps everyone loves the idea of a treehouse. I saw a great example a few weeks ago, during a walk. In someone’s back yard was a large, practically dead tree. Built upon a couple of its limbs was a platform. Well, perhaps not exactly a platform, but something similar. It looked like it was supposed to be a platform. Now, what good a platform in a tree would do in someone’s back yard, I don’t know. I don’t expect many deer would be wandering through during hunting season.

However, I did see it from a trail…

My current neighbours inherited a treehouse built by my previous neighbour. That treehouse is perhaps the most ambitious project that particular individual ever undertook. It is absolutely huge, built around the 3-foot diameter trunk of a maple tree. It has a roof with shingles and a full-size door. It has a balcony and railing. It has a window or two. What it’s never had, though, is an occupant.

I don’t think kids like treehouses. There’s no television, computer, video games. There’s no electricity for it, either.
I have seen several treehouses that could not have been built with kids in mind. I saw one, while driving a few months ago, that was built high up in a tall tree. It had a precarious arrangement of 2x4s nailed to the tree at odd angles that might have enabled the most adept of climbers to scale up and gain entry. The house itself was a bit small. It kind of looked like a cuckoo clock stuck up in a tree. And, frankly, I think you’d have to be cuckoo to go in it.
I don’t think adults like treehouses, either. You need to climb up to them, the prospect of falling is too great and threatening. And, of course, there’s no television, computer, or video games.
Adults normally just have more reasons to dislike things than kids do.

I think a good practical project, therefore, would be a shed. Everyone likes sheds. Kids like sheds because they can hide in them. They also like sheds because they like looking at all the junk stored in them. Adults like sheds because they get to store junk in them and they’re a great place to hide when someone is looking for you to do something you just don’t want to do. Some other people use sheds for more recreational purposes, which also offers an advantage over the treehouse, because it doesn’t hurt much when you fall out of a shed.

I have two sheds and no treehouse. I sometimes think it would be nice to build a little treehouse just to have it there. I could point at it and say, “Look. I made that treehouse. I dare you to go up there.” And sure enough, some people would go up. They’d enjoy the view of my shingles for a while then they would come down. It would be a forgettable experience.
I’m sure some people have had memorable experiences in treehouses. Some people undoubtedly were conceived in one. That, too, is thanks to no television, no computers, no video games.