Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Tee-Vee in the Trees

Artist Amber’s website bears the quote by poet Jean Wahl: “Le moutonnement des haies C'est en moi que je l'ai” (The frothing of the hedges/ I keep deep inside of me .") The hedges weren’t exactly frothing when she and Michael visited Fern Forest for two January nights in the treehouse—at least, not that we noticed. The ferns are still buried under deep snow, and the maples are bare. But it was Amber’s 30th birthday, and maybe she was frothing about that (although she looks ten years younger).

They came down from Montreal, where Michael works in construction on renovation projects. An artist and a construction worker in Montreal? How do they manage?

“It’s not expensive to live in Montreal,” says Michael. “Food is cheap, and I don’t have a TV. I only watch TV w
hen I visit my family in Saskatchewan.” He works on expensive projects, where his clients want the best of everything.

“You must be well versed in what’s the best,” I said.

“I’m learning,” he said. “It’s fun. I may start working only for people with lots of money.”

I guess he won’t want to hire on to build me a new kitchen addition on our main house. The treehouse doesn’t have a kitchen, just a tiny refrigerator big enough for a couple beers. That seemed to be enough for these two. They are Canadian quiet and don’t demand much.

After I visited Amber’s website, I could see why she was interested in spending her birthday in a treehouse. Many of her drawings have trees in them—houses in trees, branches branchin
g out of people and around them, roots rooted in air. Her work, according to the website, is “rooted in the neo-romantic trajectory of drawing” and “fundamentally escapist.” It seemed fitting that she’d escape Montreal for the Vermont wilderness.

What we neglected to tell these sweet people was that a TV crew was coming from Boston to do a show on our county, and they wanted to include a minute or so about the treehouse because they’d heard so much about it (WCVB-TV, "Main Streets and Back Roads").

We waited until Michael and Amber's second night with us, hoping by then they’d have fallen in love with Fern Forest. Canadians are shy and wary of publicity. Besides, these two had
come to escape, not to become television stars.

When we put it to them (gently), Amber agreed to be filmed, as long as she didn’t have to say anything. Michael indicated he’d go along but not to expect him to effuse. He doesn’t effuse. In fact, the most excitement we saw from this handsome guy was when our contractor-builder friend Alex came up for a visit, and he and Michael talked construction-speak that was too esoteric for me to follow.

On a rather overcast day, as Amber and Michael were rising to have their breakfast, writer/producer Sangita arrived with Bob, the cameraman. The camera alone was intimidating enough—a suitcase with a lens. When our guests sat down to eat, Bob filmed them forking into H’s blueberry pancakes. Sangita tried to get them to say something—even just an expression of delight—but they said they’d keep mum and they kept their word.

After breakfast, they agreed to go back into the treehouse and come out with Bob rolling the film. They didn’t prance or even give a high five to the camera. Nope—their lips
were buttoned. H and I spouted off about the treehouse, however, and we’ll see how we came out when the program airs.

In spite of putting these nice guests on the spot, they were good sports. I have a feeling, though, that this is one birthday Amber will remember. After all, she’s very fond of trees.

H and Ellie with Sangita and Bob

The segment is online only briefly, but here's the link:

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