Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Embraced by Trees

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Embraced by Trees

Article excerpt

In the small town where I grew up, children grew on trees. In the summers, we spent more time among the branches than on the ground. Our favorite trees became jungles, bandit hideouts, castles, pirate ships, rockets, and sometimes simply quiet refuges.

No matter how hot the day got, it would be cool in our high havens. And in the hottest part of the day, you could spread yourself over a few flexible branches and take a quick nap surrounded by the soft rustling and fresh, green smell of the leaves. At other times, it was enough just to sit quietly and observe. It brought a mysterious pleasure to sit silently on a high branch, watching the world go by below you and realizing that no one knew you were there.

The trees were shelters, playgrounds, refuges, companions. We climbed in them, hung swings from them, and buried treasure beneath them. They were always there when we wanted them, and they never complained.

Either we were master acrobats or trees have child-protecting qualities, since I don't remember anyone ever getting hurt falling. If we slipped off a branch, another one below would catch us, or we'd land in a pile of leaves with our feet under us.

The trees would even sacrifice themselves for our pleasure.

Once during a fierce wind, a large tree fell over in the field behind our house. After the storm, my friend Kay and I surveyed our fallen friend. Kay took hold of one of the long, now horizontal, branches that used to stretch far out of reach above us.

She pulled it down, and it bounced back up. She climbed up and straddled the branch, and her feet barely touched the ground. She gave a push, then another, lifting higher and higher into the air with each push. What a great horse! She gave a whoop as she galloped with long, flying strides across the prairie.

I found another, smaller branch that could be ridden. It had a quicker gait, more like a Shetland pony, and soon I had my eyeballs bouncing in my head. We took turns on the Clydesdale and the pony. …

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