Growing up in the city has its benefits. There's a wider variety of entertainment, food and art. And there's stimuli everywhere (i.e., more ways to avoid boredom). But don't knock a suburban childhood. Sure, the master-planned community, with its endless rows of uninspired houses, imagination-debasing bylaws and vapid consumerism, can drive a kid to abuse inhalants; but perks exist. There are golf courses to ravage by night, concrete surfaces to skate -- and trees.
Building a tree house is an almost strictly suburban or rural activity. It's a kid's way of saying, "I need a place to escape, where I can do secret stuff -- learn to smoke, talk shit about my folks, look at dirty magazines, lure the girl down the block into a French-kiss session." But tree houses are usually cheaply made affairs, not built to last much longer than puberty.
The tree houses at Fort Bend County's Sienna Plantation should set a new standard. This Friday, the master-planned community will unveil its "Tree-riffic Treehouse Exhibit," a series of 12 one-of-a-kind tree houses constructed at Brushy Lake Park. They include the MarTREEni, a tree meant to resemble a martini glass, and the Texas TREE-O, a three-tiered structure nestled in a maturing sycamore. Architects, artists and engineers let their inner children loose on the designs, which include trees up to 100 years old and eight feet in diameter.
"It's hard to describe how exciting it is to watch as a tree is transformed into a slingshot that will launch a cow over the moon," says Doug Goff, general manager of Sienna Plantation. "It's a liberal interpretation of what a tree house is." No bovines will be harmed, however. Most of the tree houses are inspired by nursery rhymes, poems and children's songs, but what are we to make of the Money Tree, which has huge dollar bills and coins hanging off its branches? Is it a sign of the times or a garish symbol of suburbia? One thing's for sure: With a tree like that in his backyard, little Timmy would be the most popular kid in the subdivision.