A boy and a tree! It is a combination made for adventure, discovery, and a significant rite of passage.
On my walk a few days ago, with a blustery cold spring wind blowing, I was totally lost in thought when I felt a presence, sensed someone above me. I raised my head and there with legs widespread and arms wrapped around a branch was a boy, nine or ten years old, climbing a tree. His face was rosy red, his eyes bright with excitement. It could well have been his first tree. I smiled the smile of knowing. I had been there and done that a long time ago and this little boy’s face unlocked the memories of my first big tree.
That tree was perhaps twenty to twenty-five feet tall, branches stretched all directions, and it was the tree I had my eye on for my first big climb. I think I was nine or ten years old. The tree was a basswood and it stood half way to the top of the hill behind my house.
I had planned my ascent, my climb, to take place on a summer’s Monday morning. Nothing much happened on Monday in the summer. I put on my new PF Flyer sneakers made for climbing as well as running and told my mother I was going for a walk up the hill. Partial truth is always good.
The first few tries to gain the branch I needed to get really high failed. Then I saw a different way, there was a lower branch I could use get to the branch I needed that I hadn’t seen before. Once I got started it was easy, one branch then the next, one branch to another, and as I went higher and higher my heart beat faster and faster. I pulled myself from one level to another. The branches on the tree began to thin and the higher I got the more I could see.
Then I could go no higher. I stood on a firm branch, my arm around the narrowing trunk, and felt as if I had arrived at the summit of Mt. Everest. Below me stretched the main streets of my hometown. I could see people and even identify some of them. I felt as if I were on the top of the world.
I returned to that tree and climbed it often in the next five or six years, and as I grew the tree grew as well. It was a place of refuge. I would lean back against the trunk at the top of the tree and the world would go away and my imagination, well there was no end to it.
I started this story by using the words, “a boy and a tree.” Yes I know girls climb trees too. But for me, this tree was about this little boy and his first big climb.
Think about the first tree you climbed, regardless of gender, and remember the climb and write your story as you looked down from on high at your world.