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.nok Hok
    GAMES DAY—Finn Molitierno (right) celebrates a goal during a game of Nok Hockey with his sister, Kyla. The two tried out a variety of games Saturday at Stair District Library’s annual International Games Day event. One of the activities featured a sort of scavenger hunt in which participants had to locate facts presented in the Smithsonian Hometown Teams exhibit. The traveling show left Morenci’s library Tuesday, wrapping up a series of programs that began Oct. 2. Additional photos are on page 7.
  • Station.2
    STRANGE STUFF—Morenci Elementary School students learn that blue isn’t really blue when seen through the right color of lens. Volunteer April Pike presents the lesson to students at one of the many stations brought to the school by the COSI science center. The theme of this year’s visit was the solar system.
  • Front.leaves
    MAPLE leaves show their fall colors in a puddle at Morenci’s Riverside Natural Area. “This was a great year for colors,” said local weather watcher George Isobar. Chilly mornings will give way to seasonable fall temperatures for the next two weeks.
  • Front.band
    MORENCI Marching Band member Brittany Dennis keeps the beat Friday during the half-time show of the Morenci/Pittsford football game. Color guard member Jordan Cordts is at the left. The band performed this season under the direction of Doyle Rodenbeck who served as Morenci’s band director in the 1970s. He’s serving as a substitute during a family leave.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2016