Tree House by Lydia Nitya Griffith


There was a path, a trail really
What is the difference between one or the other
Except to say it was a way from the lawn
Into the woods.

That trail was moss covered and framed by briars and weeds

Which are just grasses misinformed homeowners douse in toxins

But no matter, this was wild country

Where native flowers and grasses could be themselves

Free from such discrimination and annihilation

Perhaps that is the difference between country living and suburban

In the country, nature is more greatly respected for being here first

And the alternative is an arrogant entitlement that says where people live,

We reign over all.


So it was that this trail delivered a tree

A magnificent tree that hung off the edge of a cliff

Maybe a twelve foot drop to the beach below

And the river beyond

All framed by thick woods

There was a nest of roots I would crawl into

There I was cradled and hidden from the world

It was me and the tree.

Roots as my roost

And a book as my companion.


I sat just below the line of earth, neither above nor below

If one of my brothers came running to torment me

And rouse me out of my hiding place

I first felt the vibration of their thundering feet

And had enough time to drop my book

Then lowering myself through the tunnel of roots

Like some subterranean creature, a mole or groundhog

I lowered down jungle style along the sandy dirt bluff

To plummet the last few feet

Landing with a thud on the soft hot sand

Then with deer like grace, leap out of sight

Untraceable and invisible, undisturbed and free.


When the coast was clear I’d return to my hidden root roost

And read away the afternoon

Pausing to check the view

The position of the sun to tell time by

The passing of a sailboat heeling into the wind

Or to witness the long line of a great blue heron marking the sky

Then the sudden startle as an osprey hits the water

Rising up with great talons grasping a fish, scales glistening

The scent of river, of hot grass, of wildflowers;

Goldenrod, Queen Anne’s lace, cornflower, and yarrow

A bouquet to savour in the vase of nature

Unpicked and left in a tangle of perfect order.


Lost in the jungle of that woods

Tangled roots, velvet moss, and my unkempt braids

A child can fashion home out of just about anything

A cardboard box, a stack of lawn chairs with a beach towel

Or a tree like this tree, a tree with roots cascading down a bluff

Fragile arboreal nest to nestle into

And disappear

Into the vast expanse of a child’s summer sanctuary