NEWBURY, N.H. — Perhaps it’s important to start this tale by confessing that ever since the pandemic began I’ve longed to stay in a treehouse. Sadly, everybody else had the same desire.
Throughout the summer and fall I regularly checked Airbnb and VRBO for a treehouse in New England to call home, at least for a few days. Most were booked solid. Staying up in a tree surrounded by nothing but squirrels and birds with the shadows of leaves and branches dancing in the afternoon sunlight sounded like the kind of tranquility my threadbare, South Boston nerves craved. I pictured myself doing outdoorsy things, which, in actuality, I would likely never do, and enjoying my time away from civilization. I’m using the word “civilization” loosely here.
I diligently scoured listings for a treehouse in New England until, at long last, I saw something that spoke to me. A beauty in New Hampshire with two levels, two bedrooms, and a bathroom with real plumbing, something not common in treehouses. The only drawback was that it had a limited number of vacancies. When I saw openings in January I pounced. It had a gas fireplace and heated floors, so this was one winter forest adventure even a pantywaist such as myself could handle.
If you’re interested in a treehouse getaway, there are several options available, particularly in the dead of winter. Airbnb has a filter that let’s you choose “treehouse” as your lodging type. I took the high-end option ($456 per night) because I’m a smidge high-maintenance. There are several less expensive options for those who enjoy sleeping bags and outhouses.
Conveniently, my wedding anniversary is also in January. I got married five years ago, and, as all you hopeless romantics know, the traditional five-year anniversary gift is wood. I told my husband, Alex, that I chose the treehouse for an anniversary getaway because it’s in the forest. You can’t get much woodier than that. Happy anniversary! He believed it was a thoughtful, well-planned trip. In truth it was all luck and coincidence. If you happen to see him, please don’t mention that tidbit.
It turns out that a treehouse was indeed the salve I needed. We arrived to light snow and a jarring amount of solitude. The gas fireplace was quickly ignited and we began making dinner. At some point in the evening with the snow quietly and delicately falling outside, Alex said, “I never want to leave here.” Yes my friends, this is just how relaxing a treehouse on a snowy night in New Hampshire can be.
Architecturally, the style of the cabin is best categorized as “Little hobbit house on the prairie.” A photo book inside the treehouse carefully documented its construction. It’s built around an oak tree that is 63 inches in diameter and the interior includes several doors and cabinets salvaged from old barns and summer cabins. In total it’s 640 square feet inside and 14 feet off the ground. There are no crazy ladders to climb, although there is a swing underneath and a basket on a pulley for raising groceries up and down.
What I’ve failed to mention is that the treehouse was located three miles (no exaggeration) from Mount Sunapee, which meant we had a day of anniversary skiing. Much the way that the treehouse felt like an escape, a day of skiing was also remarkably freeing. Because of COVID-19, Sunapee was capping capacity at 25 percent. Advance purchase of passes was necessary. Masks are required, but the wonderful thing about wearing a mask while skiing is that it saves your nose from frostbite. You’re not allowed on the chairlift unless you’re wearing a mask, so everyone followed the rules.
But it was on the slopes that I felt as if I could breathe. Not only in the literal sense, but also as a novice skier who is far more comfortable with fewer obstacles and people around. The dearth of skiers meant more room for the side-to-side whooshing (or, in my case, swishing) necessary to control my speed. There were still plenty of times I thought to myself “I’m going to die just like Sonny Bono: In a skiing accident and forever in love with Cher.” But at the end of the day I survived with a minimum of falling.
Cell service was spotty on the mountain, but throughout the day my phone would occasionally vibrate with cryptic text messages such as “OMG, they’re inside the building” and ”Are you watching?” I had no idea what the messages referred to, and cheerily continued skiing.
It was Jan. 6, and when we returned to the treehouse that night from skiing, we turned on the news and saw footage of the hoards of domestic terrorists storming the Capitol Building. Eating dinner and watching the news by the incredibly toasty wood stove, 14 feet off the ground in forest away from the world, I echoed Alex’s sentiment from the night before. “I never want to leave here.”