Saturday, September 26, 2009

Head in the Clouds

I love the Pooh stories, and recently, while browsing the Web, as I am ever wont to do, I happened upon a site that invited me to linger in a magical place. It was a lovely virtual experience. I could have been in "The Hundred Acre Woods" and, along with Pooh, Piglet, and the rest of the gang, have felt right at home.

I'm talking about the Spherical Reading Room that is part of The Treehouse Gallery, a collaborative, self-funded, and self-sufficient public project offering both children and adults the delights to be found in creative explorations in the midst of nature.

The place, which, alas, is now being dismantled and put in storage for the season, was in London's Regents Park and was open from July 19 to September 6 this year. Daily offerings ranged from workshops and spoken-word events to debates and other live performances.

Erected along the banks of Boating Lake, this kingdom for "reinventing the discarded" consisted of a group of treehouses, all hand-built structures of reclaimed city waste and chemically free, naturally occurring materials. Anything produced onsite was reused in one or another form.

The Spherical Reading Room, my favorite - unsurprisingly, because I love and collect books - was among the treehouses. Literally crafted from a plane tree and the highest structure on the lake-site, it could be reached only by climbing a rather steep and winding set of stairs leading to a trapdoor. (Here is where I see Tigger simply and gracefully bouncing his way to the top.) Able to accommodate seven book-lovers at once, the room was encircled by a shelf of curated books, all protected in their bark-bound slipcases. (Can't you just imagine Pooh's disappointment at opening one of these and seeing no jar of honey? Christopher Robin, however, would have whiled away the hours contentedly, his head in the clouds.) It could even be used on days plagued by London's rainy weather, because provision had been made for wrapping the room in a kind of protective bubble.

Elsewhere on the property were Medicinal Herb Gardens, The Round Table, The Sound Garden, The Budding Hub Gallery, and a structure dubbed Orbidesic Dome Stage.

The Treehouse Gallery, once put in storage, will not be able to reopen next summer without donations.

The wonderful Copper Canyon Press is among Treehouse Gallery supporters. If you have a bit of change to spare and are looking for a good cause, this is one.

And if you're inspired here at home, across the sea, take your head out of the clouds and consider what good you could be doing by helping to erect a Treehouse Gallery and a Spherical Reading Room in your own backyard or community.

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