I mixed up my dates and was excited for the first day of spring to be…tomorrow, March 21st. I was thrilled to find that it’s actually today. The first signs of it are here: mourning doves coo in the morning fog, deer wander through our backyard, and the buds on the magnolia tree are swelling like scrolls waiting to unfurl.
I found this contribution to the “Winter Eyrie” project sweet and life-giving. To me, Kori’s simple, vivid prose has a viridescence (greenness) to it that captured the goodness of summer, childhood, and yearning. Enjoy!
by Kori Frazier Morgan
I grew up in an old house surrounded by trees. In the summertime, a thick, natural canopy of green covered our yard, with only the thinnest streaks of sunlight sliding between the leaves. The trees were thick-trunked oaks; two of them were older than the house itself. I loved to sit against the scratchy bark to read my books, or lie on a blanket and stare up at the intricate patterns of leaves, hearing the swish-swish of the wind.
There was one thing I desperately wanted, though, one that my trees could not give me: a treehouse. I wanted to sleep in the house with the leaves rustling against the windows and the birds perching nearby. I wanted a special place of my own to sit, far above everything, with a bucket I could let down on a rope to deliver messages or bring up my snacks and books.
But the old trees were too tall, with branches too sharply angled against the trunk. There was no safe place to build such a house.
My dad had meticulously restored our family’s turn-of-the-century home, even altering the structure of the rooms to suit the needs of an imaginative, adventurous daughter. He combined two bedrooms into one large play area, and demolished the wall shared by two closets to make a secret passageway.
When I asked for a treehouse, though, he was silent. Not even my dad’s ingenuity and skill with a toolbox could create a place for a treehouse in those high branches. But he found a solution anyway.
One weekend, while my mom was away at a conference, we went to the hardware store for lumber. He explained that we were going to build my treehouse. In the attic.
The attic had a high ceiling that peaked at the roof—the perfect location for an indoor treehouse. I watched him lay a foundation of thick beams about six feet in the air, then nail in sheets of plywood to make the floor. Once he was sure the floor could support our weight, I climbed up with him, my plastic hammer and nails in hand, to help him finish the job. He even crafted a lattice-style gate so I could see over the edge without falling and built a sturdy ladder that I could safely climb up.
And then, there was the finishing touch: my bucket, which he attached to a pulley system for efficient delivery of snacks and supplies.
The single remaining disappointment was that there were no rustling tree branches surrounding my house, and while I could faintly hear the birds from outside the attic, they could not land outside my windows.
But the more time I spent in my treehouse, the less those things mattered. In fact, the attic made it easier for the treehouse to take on other roles in my play—a space capsule, a covered wagon, a cave. It was my own place, built especially for me, that could be whatever I wanted.
It could even be an actual treehouse, where I could imagine the branches blowing in the night air, the leaves surrounding the lattice gate. When I slept there either alone or during sleepovers with friends, I wrapped myself in my blankets, feeling the solid floor beneath me. And most of the time, I could almost feel the house slightly swaying amid the rustle of the leaves, even though I was just six feet off the ground.
Kori Frazier Morgan
Kori Frazier Morgan received her MFA in fiction writing from West Virginia University. Her work has appeared in Shenandoah, Forge, Switchback, Blanket Sea, Prick of the Spindle, Scarlet Leaf Review, & other publications. She is the author of two books, Bone China Girls: A Poetic Account of a Female Crime & The Goodbye Love Generation: A Novel In Stories.