On Christmas night I step out into the below freezing air. There are so many stars in the sky, many more than I can usually see in Santa Barbara. Dark trees stretch their triangular shapes up into the night. I take each step solidly, being sure that my wimpy southern California boots don't slip on the ice patches. I'm heading away from the house on the side of the mountain and into the surrounding forest. I come to stairs carved into the hill, set with logs carved in half. I head down into a ravine and a strand of brightly glowing green christmas lights illuminate the path. It's an unnatural glow, ethereal, but it doesn't seem out of place here.
Halfway down the path a glass and metal lantern hangs from a low branch, a tiny candle burning inside. The path leads to a wood platform. It stretches out over the ravine until it's over twenty feet above the ground. Huge beams are in place, holding it up securely. I walk out to the furthest section. A thick, twisted twine rope stretches around each edge, waist high, the only thing that really is supposed to keep anyone from falling off. A firepit sits in the center, logs packed in tight, flames lighting up the deck and bringing us in with their warmth. I sit down, pull in close, and sit quietly around with my brother and sister and dad. It's been a long day, and the day will be long tomorrow too, so we don't say much, just look up at the stars. I couldn't see as many from this place as I could before I descended the path, now the moss covered trees obscured many of them. I've always loved that moss... when we were younger and played pretend games on the other side of the hill we would collect that moss to create our forest beds. It always made the forest look more mythical and mysterious, hanging gently from a majority of the trees, so very light green. So even though less stars were visible, the moon was still clearly seen and bright, perfectly halved, claiming the top center of the night sky. I stayed there, warm by the fire, and loving the reminder of just how lovely the cold weather and wilderness are. I don't get enough of either. I want to stay all night, and come back the next day and the next... but my life thirteen hours away demanded me back, and I had to reluctantly answer to it.
I rose and passed a massive, reinforced tent/house. On the other part of the platform. My dad's treehouse. He lives there, most of the time, for now. Instead of down in town, and usually instead of with my grandma up on the hill where I was staying. He built us a treehouse when we were kids. Now we sat around a bonfire with him in his actual tree House. I walked back along the magical greenly lit steps to go to bed.
Some have wondered where I get my whimsy from... much of it is from what happens in the forest in Oregon.