Friday, November 09, 2007


When you get the perfect perch in a tree, you’re cradled.

You straddle a thick branch while the coarseness of the bark works like Velcro or the sticky backside of a postage stamp.

There, you can lean back against the upstretched limb behind you, or you can lean forward to the branch reaching sideways in front of you. If you’ve got your notebook with you, you can rest it on that side-reaching limb: nature’s desk.

From the vantage point of the tree, you can see the horizon further than you could on the ground.

But if you’re 37, you’re not really that high up.

As a kid in the Pacific Northwest, you used to climb the Douglas firs, tree sap snarling your brown braids and staining your jeans.

But this tree’s different.

It’s not a fir; it’s a gangly pine in northern California on the Pacific Ocean. You’re about six feet off the ground and you haven’t had to get into the needles yet. The thought’s occurred to you to go higher, to let the needles catch in your hair. To grab a pinecone, toss it across the lawn, let the cone sap gum up your fingers.

But you’re different.

It’s been 25 years since you were that serious tree climber along Pipeline Road, higher than the power lines. Recovering from a bone break now doesn’t sound so exciting – it wouldn’t be such fun to see what your friends would write on your cast; it wouldn’t be such fun to see how you’d manage life with two kids, a job, and a third floor apartment.

So you’ve met this tree, this old friend, halfway.

You’ve climbed up her trunk, found one of her low-reaching and welcoming branches and hoped to have another 25 years of her at this level.

You try not to think of brown braids gone gray and coiled atop your head. You try not to think of yourself in the slow rocker your grandkids might drag out to the base of the tree, so you can watch them climbing above you to the tippy top.

Instead, you close your pen cap and shut your notebook, dropping them to the grass with a ting and a thud, and rest your elbows on nature’s desk to simply take in the crash of the waves and the squawks of the fish-greedy gulls.

To watch from above is what the tree offered from the very, very start, after all.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is a keeper. Seems you've added a bit since I gave you a critic's advice on one paragraph. What's frustrating is I'm not sure if I see that paragraph in this writing. Can you remember it?
A treat to get a blog again from your parts.
What a joy to spend time with you, Mick, Dane & Aubrey. I'm blessed each time I'm around you folks.