Tree House Magic

A tree house is a frivolous thing. No practical value (unless you’re living in the African bush). But if you can recall that childhood rush of climbing to the top of a tree for absolutely no reason other than the joy of doing it, you can appreciate what brings four good friends (and friends of) together every year to re-experience that feeling.

Tree House III (this is the third year of the project) is in the middle of the Prairie GardenTrust, which is managed by my friend Henry. He invited me to to come and be part of TH3 this weekend, which was perfect in every way.

The project was well-blogged (with minimal help from me) with iPhones, cameras and MacBooks everywhere you looked.

We finished the day yesterday by climbing up to the third level (about 30 feet up) to enjoy the view and reflect on project.

Tree House III

SawdustfaceA beautiful Saturday on a perfect Ocotober day. Henry and his band of merry tree house architects and slave laborers invited me to join them to help record the event. But everywhere you looked there were MacBooks and iPhones and keeping a steady stream of images, video and blog posts flowing. The crew would stop from time to time to actaully work on the tree house.

Late in the day I found myself 30 feet up on the “bird’s nest” platform with Bernard, my hands scant inches from his roarting chainsaw. My mind constanly evaluating which parts of my clothing would make the best tournequet. And if I fell, should I try to land on my feet on one of the other team members.

It’s Sunday and work has resumed. Another perfect fall day. You can follow our progress here.

My Wilderness Adventure

Following my brief stint on The Tree House ground crew, Henry took me on a mini-tour of the Prairie Garden Trust. I think it’s hundreds of acres and we saw some small fraction of that during the hour we spent in Henry’s little four-wheeler. I did this in iMovie and have come to the conclusion it will do everything I’m likely to want or need to do. I haven’t given up on Final Cut Express but it’s obviously more app than I need. (Alas, more shelfware). As for this little ride-around video…it’s quick-and-dirty and doesn’t begin to capture the beauty of the Prairie Garden Trust.

Tree House

smaysI’ll explain the provocative headline, but first, a few words about smays. I don’t photograph well. Too much gum showing (or none). More grimace than smile. But I’m not self-conscious about it, as evidenced by the frequent images here at smays.com. Then, every once in a while, someone takes a photo that I really like. Henry took this shot and it nicely reflects my mental image of myself. Sort of “Keith Richards-without-the-guitar-or-the-money.” It’s probably as simple as: good photographers see things differently than the rest of us.

Speaking of really good photographers. One of the people working with Henry and Bernard on the tree house project is their long-time friend Nick Kelsh. I thought he was just a sweaty, middle-aged guy yelling instructions at me down on the ground. In fact, Nick is a nationally prominent photographer, co-founder of a successful Philadelphia design firm and the author of eight or nine books. What Nick is not, is self-conscious. This is what Nick called his “gay porn” pose, chosen to showcase his improvised safety harness. Nick’s son, who was on the ground with me, seemed neither embarrassed nor surprised, leaving one to wonder if this was the first time Nick has done this sort of thing.

When I grow up, I want to have friends like Nick and Bernard.