Childhood Pursuits.

I don't know when I first climbed a tree! I had 4 brothers and 2 sisters. We were close as children. My one older brother, and my two younger ones, and my younger sister, we were friends as we had no others. Lived on the edge of a large, dark forest dappled with mossy swamps; sprinkled with white and brown mushrooms; shaded by trees of all kinds and sizes; dotted with trilliums; running in fields of bright wildflowers; near an old, retired race track; bordered by a large drainage ditch which was dangerous in the winter and within washed up all manner of toys. One did not see into his neighbour's home then. There was a distance between neighbours. A certain privacy that does not exist today. Now you pay per foot. And you must watch how you live while they watch you. But that is another story for another day. I do tend to ramble....
Days until dark were spent in the forests. You entered this realm quickly into the cool shade of the bounteous trees. It was as if they gathered you to their bosoms-safe and secure and loved. You were safe in the forest. Well, mostly safe. There was an old shed where the neighbour who was mentally ill-suicidal- in those days hung herself with a new rope in the late afternoon. We always avoided this shed because we thought she still hung their desperate and twisting in a horrid, lonely manner on that deadly lariat. My mother speaks of this woman and says she caught her standing on the railroad tracks one day. This woman was dressed scantily on a cold winter day. Clad in a white nightdress and shivering. My mother took her into her home. Helped her to dry by the wood stove. Gave her hot tea. And sent for someone to return her home. The one day in the forest there was no one there to notice her or to save her. I still feel incredibly sad when I think of this.
There were worn paths in the forests. Worn smooth by our feet mostly, but from others as well. Occasionally we would happen suddenly upon one of these strangers. Some had baskets into which they piled the mushrooms. I often wondered how they knew which ones to pick- how they distinguished the edible ones from the poisonous ones as they are so similar. And other adults travelled through the forest. But we were relatively safe as we five played together. Dressed in old clothes, dirty from the soil and leaves and water....We were happy in the forest.
The trees were magnificent. They ranged in size from a few inches tall up to 3 stories or larger. This forest had been around for a lot longer than we could even imagine.
And I climbed trees....The hardest part was getting into them. I had to reach high. Secure a foothold. We wore runners and it didn't matter how difficult it was. We helped each other to climb. If we need to, that is...My older brother-two years older-wished for a baby sister, and I was born. Well, not directly because he wished! I am laughing! But you know what I mean! I was his babys sister with blonde hair and blue eyes. A real cutie. And we were inseparable. My younger brothers did everything with us. My younger sister-well, let's just say she tagged along....She was not a slender girl and not very bright. But we were brothers and sisters so she was welcome.
And oh how we climbed. Mom and Dad said be careful. But we were free in the forest to climb whatever we wanted free from their eyes and their restrictions. We played fort even. I remember one occasion when the boys decided suddenly that girls were not allowed into their tree fort. And I marched home by myself with tears in my eyes. I entered the garage where my Dad was working on a car as he always was. I tearfully explained the situation and he listened carefully. He asked me what I wanted him to do about this. He and Mom tried to not get involved in our disagreements unless there was bloodshed or obvious injury. I said I wanted to go into the fort. He said you are a big girl and can do anything you want to do. Tell them you are coming in and just do it. I was happy and I walked all the way back to them and I climbed up into the fort. They didn't try to stop me. This bold blonde who knew what she wanted and got what she desired.
I remember another occasion. We were climbing a tall young tree. My next youngest brother slipped and fell the length of the trunk, probably 30 feet, and he fell quickly, clutching and trying to secure a branch. He landed abruptly on a sharp piece of the tree! It impaled his leg quite badly. He began to cry and the blood poured out. We were old enough to know it was bad. We stopped him from screaming and I put pressure on it. Even a nurse at that tender age....We took him to the house where my parents became upset, yelled at us, and took him to the hospital for many stitches. On a side note, he rarely cries now. I wish he did as it would show he was still human....
Climbing trees was a favourite past time.
Now every once in a while, when I see a particularly sweet tree-one with wide open arms and one that calls me by name-I smile and climb it. Mostly alone. I occasionally get a boost up from a stranger....But once I secure a foothold, the tree and I become fast friends....Just like some of my friends here on EP! Thank you for listening to my climbing story. I do appreciate your comments whatever they may be.
deleted deleted
2 Responses May 9, 2012

you have a great way with words , thanks for sharing !

Oh, this was good.

Yes. You are. You have the eye and the voice.