Friday, September 19, 2008

Musings on Tree Houses

As a child I was fascinated with tree houses.  Since I never had one, I think the love affair began with my favorite childhood book, "Little Miss Suzy", the premise of which was a squirrel who lived in the top of an old oak tree.  The image of falling asleep each night looking at the stars, with the wind gently rocking her to sleep, enchanted me.  Oh I climbed trees as a kid and spent a fair amount of time sitting in them, watching the world go by from my secret perch, but I never had an actual, honest-to-goodness tree house.

Recently I have become infatuated with the idea again.  This past winter I moved into a new apartment.  It's located on a rather busy street, not exactly the view one would choose.  But I noticed that from my fourth floor perch, if I sit back and look out the window, there are many lovely, old trees.   I couldn't wait for spring when the foliage would appear again, and I could sit and look out into the treetops.  It seemed like a grown up version of my dream childhood tree house.  Spring came, and with it the leaves filling out the trees, but instead of sitting back and enjoying the view, I found myself annoyed by the sounds of traffic from the street below and the beautiful spring days turned into the dog days of summer.  I closed the blinds to keep the sun from warming an already hot apartment.  Today, however, I stopped to notice the fully foliated treetops, and took a moment to enjoy the view.  I found that my breathing slowed down to a pleasantly relaxed pace and I thought back on those childhood summers so long ago.  Why had I closed off this one feature of the  apartment that I actually enjoy?

That got me to thinking about growing up, or worse, growing old.  Why are we all in such a rush to get there, whatever "there" is for each of us?  When do we stop having that youthful joy in the little things that make us happy?  And would the world be a better place if we all took a few minutes a day to allow ourselves to enjoy our own personal "tree houses"?  Sometimes I look at technology and I am amazed at all we can accomplish in our brave, new 24/7 world.  Other times, I feel a longing sadness for the simplicity of summers long gone, where evenings were spent sitting on the front stoop passing time with our neighbors, or enjoying the silence that allows us to slow down long enough to hear what we actually think and feel, to experience nature and other human beings as more than an annoyance to be endured.

I am as guilty as the next person; I own a cell phone, several IPODS, a computer and multiple TV's including DVD-R service.  But it all makes me wonder if maybe Miss Suzy, the little grey squirrel from the book, had it right all along, taking life slowly -- After all, wouldn't it be wonderful to fall asleep not to the sounds of the television, but to the sight of the night sky and the feeling of the gentle wind rocking us to sleep?  Maybe, just maybe, we could throw out that Ambien, and sleep the gentle, restful sleep once again that babies and children seem to.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Oh, to be able to go back to our childhood. A good lesson here to slow down, let go and let God.