We have had a fabulous treehouse in our back yard for over four years now. I dreamed it up one winter and my dad built it the next Spring. It is 10' by 10', minus the giant tree trunk in the middle. It has a front porch and a suggestion of a roof. The older two kids have slept in it every summer, taking up books and sleeping bags, snacks and (hopefully) bug spray. It has been the coveted high ground in ever one of Solomon's birthday water fights (three years running). Nova figured out the rope ladder herself just this spring (before we had a regular ladder leading up as the mechanics of the rope ladder proved a bit difficult for us adults.
Sadly the huge silver maple that it resides in is not doing well. We suspect it is about 70 years old--the same as our house. We knew it wouldn't last forever, we just thought we'd have several years left. Looking up into the canopy about two weeks ago we noticed a fungus on a dead branch--little white shelves all over the western face. That alone was not too worrying, but the fact that the fungus continued down, past the floor of the treehouse on the main trunk was more than a little disturbing. Finding that it matched a fungus named 'heart rot' seem a death knell. So--we had a party.
We set the date for just a week and a half out, since the following Friday was Halloween. Chili, cider and a bonfire were offered as well as a farewell tour of the treehouse. We invited widely, the kids' friends, our friends, the neighbors, grandparents and any aunts or uncles in the area. One of Solomon's friends ended up coming early and helping with yard work and making the chili, which was nice. We borrowed crock pots, ladles and a mixer from neighbors (my mixer died in the middle of making frosting). A massive leaf pile for jumping and and driveway basketball court rounded out the outdoor activities.
And then 53 people came. Even my high estimates had been no more than 40. But, it worked out remarkably well. The weather was perfect. The kids (approximately 25 of our guests were under 18) ran around and generally had fun.
Some of our guests checked out the tree house. (Above is a little tour--pretend we are taking you up to hang out by the trunk, in the corner, and on the front porch). Others visited on the ground or in the house. The leaf pile was a hit. The food held out. We had a good time.
A little before dusk we got the fire started. And then as night fell, the crowd dwindled. We sat around the fire a while longer, and before we knew it, it was just us. Thanks for coming everyone! We will miss our tree and treehouse.