This post appeared first in our late summer 2014 issue of Chip Notes.
Do you need a place to sit, feel the breeze across your face, see the clouds rolling across the sky, hear the brook cascading over rocks, listen to the sounds of birds singing, chirping, and calling to each other? If so, come visit the Museum’s new treehouse. Rain or shine, it’s waiting for you.
For years, the Museum’s Board members and staff have wanted to create a treehouse: a sheltered, elevated outdoor space, one more accessible for people of all abilities than some other outdoor spaces. We imagined a place for reflection, teaching, observation, and restoration. Last year’s flood interrupted our actual plans at first. However, with some unexpected volunteer assistance (an entire class!) and a little coordination with other needs, we have been able to roll the treehouse into the Bridges to Birds project… and complete it. (Find out more about the rest of the Bridges to Birds project on page 3.)
This project really began years ago and would not have happened without the insights, connections, funds, labor, and services donated by Bob Spear, Gale Lawrence, Dann Van Der Vliet, Mae Mayville, Shirley Johnson, Becky Cozzens, Evergreen Roofing, and the Essex Rotary Club. The treehouse itself and a wide walkway leading to it were built by the Center for Technology, Essex. The students, under the direction of their teachers, Shawn Rouleau and Brian Japp, designed, built, and installed an entire timber frame structure that is accessible to visitors of all ages. The students impressed us all with their skills and dedication.
Our treehouse is built out over a long stream bank to allow for elevated points of view and unique listening opportunities. When weather and foliage permit, the peak of Camel’s Hump can be glimpsed above the trees. Sherman Hollow Brook tumbles below, often hidden, delighting the ear. Nearby hemlock, apple, and maple trees provide perching and gleaning territory for many small songbirds. The wide, nearly level gravel path to our “elevated bird blind” begins near the back lawn, winds through new garden beds, tucks behind the dogwoods, and meets a short bridgeway to the treehouse itself.
The treehouse gives us an additional space with completely different perspectives, allowing new outdoor programming options. A recent grant from the Vermont Community Foundation’s Small and Inspiring program will help fund development of “Connections in the Canopy” activities and curricula.
We thank all of you who helped bring this vision into reality and we hope everyone will come visit. It’s for you.