Weather report here at A Butler’s Manor: Sixty glorious, sunny degrees, with a touch of breeze to waft the scent of daffodils in bloom. The ocean at Gin Lane Beach this morning: Calm blue, with no surf to speak of…as docile as a bay beach.
Even prettier was the bare mist rising off little Lake Agawam, which begins at the back of Agawam Park on the southwest end of Job’s Lane in Southampton and ends just steps from Gin Lane Beach, across from St. Andrew’s on the Dunes church. The flora that surrounds the small pond hasn’t yet filled in, affording passersby with a lovely view of the houses on First Neck Lane reflected in the mirror-like water.
Overlooking this view on the Gin Lane side of Lake Agawam is a large house currently undergoing an extensive renovation (in the estate district, there doesn’t seem to be such a thing as a minor renovation). And in this house’s back yard, just visible through the bare trees and as-yet leafless hedges, is this old treehouse. Not one of those modern ones that double as a jungle gym, or a freestanding platform “clubhouse,” but an old-fashioned structure made of wood built into the architecture of the large tree.
Oh, how I wanted a treehouse when I was young! Even just a platform with a rope ladder, where I could climb up and read my books and feel like I was spying on the world below. But my childhood home was a tract house, brand new when my parents bought it, and not until I was an adult living away from home did any of the trees on our street get big enough to support a treehouse. Now, of course, we have a giant sycamore maple anchoring the garden here at A Butler’s Manor, big enough to build a condo in — if only I were ten years old again!!
The Gin Lane treehouse is (or was) quite a posh treehouse; it has windows and rustic operative shutters and all the faces except this one are shingled like the main house. Perhaps when it was built, the owners saw no need to shingle the back side of the treehouse, as it couldn’t be seen anyway…not, that is, until winter, when its summer occupants are far away. I’m guessing the (probably new) owners of the remodeled house will eventually get round to having the treehouse pulled out when they turn their attention to the landscaping. But until they do, I’m happy to have found it and recorded its existence for posterity.
Another house in the estate district, reputably occupied by the writer Tom Wolfe, also has a treehouse in the front yard. It’s quite a bit smaller and has a lovely round porthole window in it. This one you can see if you know to look for it, but once the tree fills with leaves, it’s nearly invisible to the unsuspecting. Still, knowing the treehouses are here delights me. In the midst of opulence, a touch of whimsy.
Quote of the Day: That which we surround ourselves with becomes the museum of our soul and the archives of our experiences. — Thomas Jefferson