The Tree House

In 1970 when I lived in Key West Florida I worked on Sailboats, Fishing boats, and the Cable Schooner "Western Union International," mending underwater communication cables. I was also a street artist. I lived in various places, my favorite of which was this treehouse- a very old majestic Banyan Tree. It was a retreat from the hustle of a very busy town.

A place I could go to gather my thoughts, feel the breeze, see over the rooftops, and smell the fragrance of the flowers surrounding the pond below.

Climbing up the stairs was an adventure in itself. The squeaking chains would startle the lizards that lived in the tangle of branches. They would check out who was trespassing in their world, like little watch dogs. Whatever fears they had their curiosity overcame, as they joined me on the deck to hear the steel drum melodies of the Islands.

I was contacted by my old Grand Valley State Professor with a possible job opportunity as assistant to the new printmaker, Takeshi Takahara. I replied, and got the job, and said farewell to the island.

Knowing I was going to leave with no camera to capture this memory, I knew I had to draw it. My first thought looking at the complexity of the tree was, "Where do I start?" I started with the simplest shape, a rectangle for the trunk. To that I could attach the branches, decks, and wrap-around stairs and surround it with fragrant foliage, and the wind. I drew very lightly with my pencil, then I got my bottle of ink and a quill pen and began drawing line for line, filling in the simplest forms with all the details. I look at it now, and it brings back the smells, sights, and sounds of the island in great memories of this place 50 years ago.