A Tree House Proposal
It all started on a cold winter day in December with a little movie called “Swiss Family Robinson.” This 1960 Disney Classic would spawn my ingenious idea that would later unfold at Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska City, NE. As I sat on the couch with my girlfriend Melanie that day, I was informed multiple times how amazing the tree house in the movie was. Being an interior designer, Melanie deeply admired the craftsmanship of that tree house, noting the clever design by the Robinson family. She pointed out the awesomeness of it every chance she could. By the end of the movie, I had no doubt that she genuinely wished she could live in a tree house. As the credits rolled, I had my “Ah-hah!” moment. That was it. The engagement idea I had been searching for.
I knew then and there that I had to propose in a tree house.
With the help of my friend Google, I searched the globe for the perfect tree house. After almost deciding to fly out to Washington state, Google mentioned a place called Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska City. This was quite an improvement in location. I was filled with hope when I discovered that there was a 50-foot tall tree house smack dab in the middle of the Tree Adventure. Without hesitation, I sent out an email proposing my engagement idea to a very helpful woman named Jennifer. She was intrigued and wanted to discuss the idea with some of her colleagues. Eventually I was introduced to Susan, and we began hashing out some ideas. She was incredibly friendly and so easy to work with. The emails flew back and forth as we made arrangements for the big day. I made a trip down to the Farm a couple days prior to get comfortable with the surroundings. It was a beautiful place, and I was feeling pretty darn good about everything.
After months of planning, May 15, 2010, came at last. It was time to execute. Two days earlier, the forecast was calling for a 50% chance of storms. But as Melanie and I hopped in the car and headed down Highway 2, there were no ominous clouds in sight. Those extra prayers I put in to the Big Guy were coming through. As we cruised along, Melanie was all sorts of antsy. I assumed she must have had an inkling about what was going to happen, although she knew nothing of my secret plans. She asked me where we were going at least 20 times, and she couldn’t stand the anticipation. Eventually we pulled into Lied Lodge in Nebraska City. What a cool place. We were both impressed by the originality, cleanliness, and upscale feel. After dropping off our bags in our room, I informed Melanie that I had reserved her a surprise pedicure in five minutes at the hotel spa. Surprised and excited, she headed out the door and down to the spa. Meanwhile, it was time for me to meet with Susan at the Tree Adventure and double check on all the plans over at the Farm. Susan greeted me with a big hug and a smile. I think she was as excited as I was. We went over the plan one more time, making sure everything was ready. Things were feeling right. It was almost go-time.
I picked Melanie up from the Lodge and we headed over to the Farm. I expressed my concern to her about the Tree Adventure closing soon. I told her I hoped there was still time to check it out. We parked the car and strolled up to the entrance. We walked in and were immediately greeted by Susan. She told us that the Tree Adventure normally closes in 10 minutes….(look of distress on Melanie’s and my face)….BUT since they had a Girl Scout troop coming in later that evening, we could go ahead and take a walk around. Yes! Saved by the Girl Scouts! Well, not quite. Susan and I actually arranged that little situation as part of our plan. She directed us outdoors and Melanie and I were off on the trails.
We had a wonderful time hiking through the Tree Adventure. We explored the wilderness, took pictures, and acted like goofballs as we trekked along the path. I’m sure the birds and squirrels above in the trees were wondering who the two hooligans below were. Eventually, we neared the end of the path. Melanie asked me what we were going to do for dinner. I told her I didn’t really have any plans and that maybe we could try to eat at the hotel restaurant. With a ring of disappointment, she said, “Really? You don’t have any plans? Well, yea, I guess we could eat there.” Little did she know, there was an incredible feast awaiting her in just a few minutes.
We came to the last intersection of the trail. We turned right (Melanie tried to convince me to go left) and made our way up the hill. We reached the top and there it was, the 50-foot tree house in all its glory. Melanie’s face lit up as she simply said, “Wow.” After scoping it out, we started our ascent up the stairs. We reached the summit and the moment of truth. Melanie turned the corner and noticed the table sitting in the corner with a bottle of wine and two wine glasses. She walked over to it with a big smile on her face. She then turned around to find me on one knee in front of her, with a beautiful vintage ring in my hands. I was so calm and collected up to this point, but now found myself shaking like a leaf! I expressed my undying love and asked my Mellie to marry me.
“Yes, of course I’ll marry you!”
And with those words, she granted me the happiest moment of my life. She slipped on the 1920s vintage ring (Melanie loves antiques and sells vintage clothing) and gave me a huge hug – and of course a nice smooch. It was a beautiful scene atop that tree house as the sun was beginning to set.
After our moment, I mentioned to Melanie that I had one last surprise for her. We walked down the steps of the tree house to the platform area where a delicious picnic awaited us. It included smoked meats, cheeses, crackers, organic fruit salad, Persian Baklava, organic dark chocolate, pecans, and wine. I bought most of the food from the farmers market that morning. Melanie was once again filled with awe and surprise. We sat, ate, and took everything in. We were both extremely happy and excited. The weather was near perfect. We couldn’t have asked for a better day. (A background note – as we were hiking on the exploratory trail, Susan set up the wine at the top, and picnic below for us. She was such a great help.)
We finished our evening at Lied Lodge, and enjoyed the brunch buffet in the morning before heading out. It was a wonderful weekend, and it would not have been possible without the help of Susan, Jennifer, and the rest of the superb staff at Arbor Day Farm.
Thank you so much for being a part of our engagement. We will never forget our incredible day.
Brian Recker and Melanie Gillis
Brian Recker is the K-5 Physical Education teacher for Syracuse-Dunbar-Avoca Public Schools. He has a passion for teaching others how to live a healthy lifestyle. He has also become an organic gardener during the summers, practicing sustainable farming methods.