Up in the Old Redwood Tree

Out on a limb in Outer Sebtown

I was up on the platform in the old redwood tree the other afternoon, drinking a pickle-juice beer from Texas and grooving to the rhythm and sway of wood in the wind, and I had a thought: I could live this way.

I mean, like, forever.

I’ve fancied living in a tree ever since I stayed the night in my hippie aunt and uncle’s treehouse in the Santa Cruz mountains in the mid-1970s. It was two stories tall and had a little deck off the loft, accessible through two tiny cabinet doors. I had so much fun there that the memory pains my heart. Time has moved on—that treehouse is now decades gone. But a memory like that will stay with me forever, or at least until my brain turns to Swiss cheese.

I built the platform up in the old redwood tree about a year ago—a couple of weeks after I moved out to Apple Dog Farm in West County. My landlords jumped ship for the summer and I took to exploring the little redwood grove next to the driveway, and one day I looked straight up the trunk of one of the redwoods, and the next thing I knew I’d scaled its branches and arrived at the top. It was quiet and sun-speckled up there. Not only that, I was so lost in the foliage that no one could see me.

I’m no fool. I knew just what to do. I found two sturdy branches that were level, and for the next two weeks I craftily climbed the 30 feet up and down that tree, hauling one board at a time and laying each one out on those branches until I had a platform. Then I added some screws and a roof made of corrugated plastic and a stretched-out army poncho.

Nowadays I climb up there once or twice a week for an hour or two. It’s nice to feel the cool breeze on my bare skin. Sometimes I read or drink a pickle-juice beer, and one time I talked to a barn owl perched on a branch 10 feet away. But mostly I revel in the exquisite peace and beauty of my airborne hideout. If I could, I’d stay up there and never come down, pulling food and water up by rope.

I hope that wooden tree platform lasts a good, long time. I hope it outlasts me.

Mark Fernquest lives and writes in West County.

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