Aardvarchaeology has a fascinating piece on abandoned suburban treehouses.
These sites and their formation processes reflect children’s
psychological characteristics. Kids have little sense of order, short
memories and strange rationality. They also have no idea that childhood
is brief and transient. They will happily fill their treehouses with
junk without any thought that they might one day stop coming there.
When adolescence strikes and the hormones get going, old childish
haunts like these suddenly become the last places they want to visit.
So everything is left wherever it dropped the last time someone came to
play in the house.
Grownups hardly ever leave their sites that way: we keep any useful
stuff and tidy up the place before we leave. Often we will even tear
the house down and bring the building materials to our next place of
habitation. The grownup type of site most similar to abandoned
treehouses is the homeless substance-abuser camp, which is also
inhabited by people with thinking impairments. Such sites may be
abruptly abandoned when their inhabitants die of overdoses, get thrown
into jail or find someone with an apartment who’s willing to take them
And the treehouse sites are hardly ever cleaned up. In fact, the
children’s parents often have only a vague notion of where the
treehouse is. They may help to build it, but they don’t feel
responsible for it. It’s out in the woods where only children and
mushroom pickers see it: out of sight and out of mind. The mess there
would never be tolerated in the back yard, just as most Westerners of
today feel really uncomfortable in the stench and litter of Third World