2013.04.10 I'm out of my tree

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

What my yard lacks is a good climbing tree. It's never had one since I've lived here. There's no way up and into that old maple by the driveway. I don't think I ever entered the middle-aged maple in back. The spruce, the Siberian elm and the enormous red maple—all three that fell in the big storm of 2000—were unapproachable. Everything else is too young. I'm grounded here.

I don't recall when I was last in a tree, but I was reminded of climbing when I recently saw a mention of International Tree Climbing Day. And I just missed it. It's the last day of March and it's now on my calendar for 2014. Now there's a little extra incentive to stay limber and to look around for a suitable subject.

Here's the motto of the tree climbing event: "Liberate the Horizontal, Integrate the Vertical Super Surface." Along with this: "Til death do us part."

Some people celebrate the day alone; others plan meet-ups such as this one: "We will be at Jahanpanah City Forest, Delhi, meeting at the entrance of Lal Bahadur Shastri Marg at 16.30 pm, or just see you up in the branches."

Apparently the event was started by the Irational artist group in Bristol, United Kingdom, in 2003. A year later there were 10 events planned in six countries. In 2009, the group was looking for reports of "sublime interspecies playing." The following year there were planned events in 20 countries.

There's serious tree climbing and then there's just fooling around climbing. The latter is what this event is about, based on the photos I've seen.

Here's a report from a climber: " i love climbing trees! i recently fell 40-50ft and landed about a foot away from a metal bench. i didnt break a bone. i was sitting on a branch and it snapped so i grabbed my backup branch... it broke too. on my fall down, i caught a branch in mid-air. it broke too."

Forty to 50 feet is serious business. You wouldn't see me that high in a tree, not even when I was 16 years old.

When I think of tree climbing for fun, I think of Rick Ford. Wasn't it Rick who used to climb the tall cottonwoods along Bean Creek and watch football games from on high, back when the football field was at Wakefield Park? Someone used to join him up there. Lenny Dietrich, maybe. Crazy stuff. Those guys were really up there. I remember one night they were spotted by "the authorities" and ordered to come down. I don't recall the outcome.

Here's another climber report: "i love tree climbing, at the top of a tree is the only place i feel truly safe and relaxed! i been climbin trees since i was little, fell out of a few but they just made me better at climbin trees."

Young bodies are more resilient. I don't recall ever falling from a tree, but when I was growing up, our yard at the big house on Cawley Road was an excellent tree yard. My favorite was the multi-trunked maple in the front. You needed to wedge yourself betwixt two trunks to work your way up before grabbing a branch. I tried to get into a hackberry with a ladder. I often visited the sugar maple by the road and once or twice made it into the Norway maple. The enormous horse chestnut in back wasn't very approachable, but I tried.

Going back to that second quote—about feeling safe and relaxed in trees—that's what amateur, low-level tree-climbing is all about for me. It's been 40 years, I suppose, but I can still remember a day at the gravel pit on Mulberry Road. There was a collection of young cottonwoods growing along the top of what at that time was a large rise and a sand cliff below. Probably the edge of the ancient lake before Lake Erie. 

There was a strong wind and I climbed into one of those trees. It wasn't just climbing, it was riding. The trees were in such movement at the edge of the cliff, slowly moving back and forth toward the edge of the drop-off. Such exhilaration. Maybe that's the chief thrill and pleasure right there: Moving slowly in the wind as the tree is blown about.

My calendar is marked for next year, but I think it's time to be on the lookout for a good, safe climb, just to feel that magical movement again.

  • Front.train
    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks
  • Front.sculpta
    SCULPTORS—Morenci third grade students Emersyn Thompson (left) and Marissa Lawrence turn spaghetti sticks into mini sculptures Friday during a class visit to Stair District Library. All Morenci Elementary School classes recently visited the library to experience the creative construction toys purchased through the “Sculptamania!” project, funded by a Disney Curiosity Creates grant. The grant is administered by the Association for Library Services to Children, a division of the American Library Association.
  • Funcolor
    LEONIE LEAHY was one of three local hair stylists who volunteered time Friday at the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Her customer, Aubrey Sandusky, looks up at her mother while her hair takes on a perfect match to her outfit. Leahy said she had a great time at the event—nothing but happy clients.
  • Shadow.salon
    LEARNING THE ROPES—Kristy Castillo (left), co-owner of Mane Street Salon, works with Kendal Kuhn as Sierra Orner takes a phone call. The two Morenci Area High School juniors spent Friday at the salon as part of a job shadowing experience.
  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.bank.2
    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.make.three
    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.

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