We arrived at the house concert, our hostess asked her son to take our jackets and pointed out the wine and sandwiches and cheese, and after we’d elbowed our way through university students to get a glass of wine, she said eagerly, “Have you seen the treehouse? Would you like to go up in the treehouse?”
I thought it must be the family slang for a special second-story area of their home, since they’d recently done some remodeling. But when she pointed to a place for us to set down our drinks and snacks before going to the treehouse, I wondered: could we be going to climb up into a real treehouse? At a house concert? In January? She led the three of us, together with another couple we know out through doors to the back patio and out into the yard.
As we went, she explained that when planning her son’s 9th birthday party, she had looked at the dilapadated swingset in the yard with a critical eye and it made her uneasy. Meanwhile someone had told her about a guy who builds ropes courses who likes to construct treehouses on the side. What we climbed up into was the result of contacting that guy, the ironic result of worrying about the safety of an aging swingset. Before we climbed, though, she reassured us that the structure had been deemed safe to carry up to 6,000 pounds. I ran a quick calculation in my mind–our party of 6 would not strain its limits, then.
We climbed a ladder to a small platform that gave onto a 20-foot cable and netting bridge which we traversed, ballet-footed, like high-wire circus performers (except we could hold the net) to a higher platform in a larger tree and then climbed another ladder and squeezed through a trapdoor into the treehouse proper.
Up in that tree house we were so high up in the air that we were looking down on the two story homes of the neighbors. Our hostess said neighbors had asked them if they had a permit to build it. After awhile, we decided it was time to come back down–which was easier than going up. It was a surreal beginning to a wonderful house concert.
The concert was held in the house, not, despite jokes, in the treehouse. The occasion provided the musicians with a chance to hone their program before taking it out on tour, and it was a privilege and a joy to be there in the audience.