Lisa Munniksma

freelance writing, editing, farming, travel

I Live in a Tree


If I must be specific, I don’t exactly live in a tree. It’s a treehouse in a Live Oak tree. I’m volunteering at an artist retreat in Florida, and I had my choice of staying in a bus, which I’ve also never done, or living here, and I chose here because … it’s a treehouse.

For 10 days, I get to live in this sweet little treehouse, 25 feet above the Florida ground.

For 10 days, I get to live in this sweet little treehouse, 25 feet above the Florida ground.

This is a great experience—and I’ll only be here for 10 days—but living in a treehouse is not all the fantasy that you might imagine. It’s January, and though I’ve gone south, it’s still cold at night. 27 degrees a few nights ago, actually. And my windows don’t close. There are large, heavy blankets for curtains that do a passable job of keeping out the wind and keeping in the heat from my small space heater. They don’t exactly make it “warm” in here, though, making some nights reminiscent of camping with Liz in Yellowstone on our L5 road trip two years ago. The nights that it’s been warmer than 30s, I have had some really wonderfully comfortable sleep here!

Sitting about 25 feet above the ground, I climb 15 ladder steps to get up and down from my world in the trees to the real world on the ground. Let me give thanks for not having a fear of heights! On the other hand, one thing I’m not thankful for is my forgetfulness. If you’ve ever tried to leave the house with me to go somewhere, you know that I have to go back inside at least once—sometimes three times—to get something I forgot. Maybe it’s my keys, my wallet, my phone, my camera (just-in-case), my water bottle, my book, my phone charger … you name it, I can forget it, and forgetting it when you’re 15 ladder rungs away from it is less OK than forgetting it when you’re just outside the door. One of the really cold nights, I forgot my towel when I went to the bathhouse to wash my face before bed. That was a face-freezing 20-yard walk back to the treehouse!

The same 15-rung inconvenience shows itself when I wake up in the morning and it’s cold (see above) and I have to pee. really. bad. Of course I wait until the last possible second to get out of bed, so this sense of urgency causes me to scramble to pile on layers to go outside while doing the pee-pee dance, and then I have to navigate my 15 ladder rungs while doing the pee-pee dance, and then I have to pee-pee dance myself all the way to the bathhouse (also without windows/heat).

If you’ve gone to the top of the St. Louis Arch, you’re familiar with the feeling of the sway as the structure compensates for the wind 630 feet above the Mississippi River. Well, I’m not nearly that high off the ground here, but this little treehouse sways—and gives out butt-clenching creeks—in the wind. And, boy, can it get windy!

There is much to love about my treehouse, too. I have a little kitchenette, WiFi access that mostly works most of the time, a big and comfy futon couch, and a loft bed with many blankets. My deck has colorful lights and a beautiful view of the peaceful, wooded acreage around me.

Being at an artist retreat, there are tiny touches of creativity and big splashes of color all around the property. The walk to the main house–a dome house!–goes through a sort of tunnel of brush with lights strung through it. The path reminds me of a path at one of my stops in Turkey. I was drawn to this place because of the creative spirit that’s fostered here, and I am not even a little disappointed by what I’ve found.

So far, while traveling and in real life, I’ve stayed in lots of houses, apartments, hotels and hostels; on a cruise ship; in some tents; under a tarp; in horse and livestock trailers, a few campers, a yurt, a cave, a van, and now a treehouse. I’ll have to take residence in a bus soon, because that seems like an obvious accommodation missing from this list. I’m open to suggestions for additional sleeping quarters that I’m missing out on!


  1. I think you once did an overnight on a ferry. Does that count?

  2. Love reading your blog , Lisa. Can’t wait to see you on the ground in Lex!

  3. You should look to sleep in a bunker, a yacht, a sleeper train car and a nudist colony!!!!

    Love you & your newsletters!!!!

  4. Lisa, I am enjoying reading what you are doing. Living in a treehouse is amazing and thank you for taking us on this journey with you. Sarah just graduated from Centenary College with a BA in Public Relations/Print Communications. She has written for the Express-Times and she enjoys writing.Thank you for being her first babysitter.

  5. Dear Lisa,
    I love your blogging. Keep it up! If you get to Immokalee, you could visit the Coalition of Immokalee Workers. We are having a second screening of Food Chains, the big screen documentary film about the CIW and farmworker history. This time Feb 3 at U of L. CIW also has a mobile museum about slavery in the fields, including about the recent cases of forced labor in Florida’s farmworker industry.
    Keep warm, friend. Also, you might consider having a chamber pot up in the tree house! 🙂


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