When H got the idea to rent out the treehouse six and a half years ago, he wondered whether anyone would want to stay in a tiny dwelling thirty feet above the ground. Would guests be able to climb a steep ladder to get into the loft bed? Would they mind hiking seventy feet to the main house to use the bathroom? In a strong wind, the treehouse sways, and inevitably there are spiders. Would guests tolerate bugs, not to mention mice and squirrels skittering over the roof?
The answer is an overwhelming, enthusiastic yes. Guests not only want to stay in the treehouse, but they clamor for a booking. As 2015 draws toward a close, every available night in 2016 is booked. Some have reserved nights six months to a year in advance. The only way to grab a lofty sleep anytime soon is if someone cancels.
A New York gal canceled this past weekend because her boyfriend had broken up with her. Within twenty minutes, two parties were vying to scoop up the open spot. H wrote them that the first to accept a two-night stay (twice the income and half the work for us) would get the nod. A fellow named Winslow took the leap. He wanted to surprise his girlfriend Lilly with a couple nights in the maples for her 25th birthday.
Winslow, a tall, handsome San Franciscan, got to know Vermont when he was a student at Middlebury College. He is a cordial fellow with earnestness in his chocolate colored eyes that invites people in. After college he moved to Boston to work in finance, met Lilly, and cast his chocolate spell over her. She was smitten.
Lilly has a delicate beauty and an engaging smile. I could see why Winslow wanted to move the relationship forward with a weekend of surprises.
They drove to Fern Forest via Ripton, which requires navigating ten miles of narrow dirt road that winds along a babbling brook.
“Where are you taking me?” Lilly asked.
“You’ll soon see,” Winslow assured her. There’s much to be said for trust.
It was near midnight when they arrived, and the lights rimming the treehouse were aglow with color. We had even put a miniature Christmas tree with twinkling lights inside. H showed the two around and instructed them in using the hot tub. They quickly slipped out of their clothes, wrapped themselves in the thick bathrobes we had ready for them, and climbed into the hot water while a zillion stars blinked down on them.
In the morning we gave them a hearty breakfast. Lilly seemed pleased with the first phase of Winslow’s surprise. But he had more in store for her. We didn’t see them for the rest of the day.
On Sunday morning, Winslow gave us the details of their excursion. First they visited Stowe, a village near the ski area with lots of chichi shops and eateries, and a lunch of cheese fondue at a Swiss café. They both love dogs, and he wanted to treat Lilly to a dogsled ride. The snow gods have not smiled on Vermont yet this year but Peacepups Dogsledding had put wheels on the sleds, and she got to mush the huskies through the damp and mossy woods.
Winslow had heard of Stowe’s Trapp Family Lodge and thought it would interest Lilly. He had no idea who the Von Trapps are and had never seen The Sound of Music, but the movie is one of Lilly’s favorites. Winslow scored again.
For dinner that night he took Lilly to Mary’s, an elegant farm-to-table restaurant housed in a rambling farmhouse not far from the treehouse. With candlelight on the tables, fireplaces lit with glowing logs, and Woody Jackson cow paintings overhead, they feasted on Chef Doug’s cuisine before coming back up the mountain for another hot tub soak and sips of the wine Winslow had brought along.
One would think Winslow had fulfilled Lilly’s wildest birthday wishes. But he had more in store—Sunday afternoon latte and French pastry at the Vergennes Laundry, and then to Burlington for a look at Lake Champlain.
As we got ready to say goodbye to our weekend guests, I detected a glimmer of enchantment in Lilly’s eyes. Out of Winslow’s earshot, she whispered to me, “His birthday is next month. How do I top this weekend?”
“I’m sure a candlelight dinner will do very well,” I answered. It’s better not to try to compete with a guy like Winslow, but he gets my vote for Boyfriend of the Year.