Admiring the perfect climbing tree

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There is a willow tree making me wish for long-gone fearless agility. If ever a tree had been formed as the model for the best things a person should seek in a perfect climber, this one could be on display, front and center.

The limbs are just the loveliest tree-climbing spindles, calling for someone with bravery to scale to the highest point.

I pass this tree every day, sometimes walking, sometimes riding. It sits along the driveway, planted by someone who lived here before us.

In the 10 years we’ve lived here, I have watched the willow fill out, the limbs growing in width and height with a slight rotation in all the best ways for a kid’s foot placement.

My husband quite often says how much he would love to cut it down.

“Why?” I asked way back when he first said it. “You are such an outdoorsman — you love the woods and can name all the trees and yet you would be happy to cut down this perfect willow? Why do you hate it so much?”

“Because it’s a willow,” was his simple answer.

Like that should darn well explain everything. It didn’t. So, I have sort of become a tree hugger, keeping a close eye on this monument of beauty. As school wrapped up each spring, we usually had more plans than the days could hold.

Not only was freedom right around the corner, but we suddenly had a “new” pair of shoes, just right for climbing trees, riding bikes and running full-tilt. These were the shoes we used so rarely at school, kept in a locker for gymnasium play only.

This would seem ridiculous to the kids of today, but our shoe selection was limited to three pairs of shoes: church shoes, school shoes and play shoes. You never wore one while doing the other.

Church shoes were taken off and put away as soon as we got home from church. Only a fool would wear black shiny patent leather shoes to play outside. If slipping from a tree limb didn’t break you, a whipping by your mama surely would.

By the time school was out, our old play shoes had really bit the dust, the soles smooth as ice and nearly as dangerous. Those gym shoes were as good as new and would take us many miles.

If only I had a pair of barely-used gym shoes, I am sure I could scale that lovely willow.

Well, those shoes and a time machine to take me back to the days of invincibility and total fearlessness with a strong dose of determination sprinkled in.

THEN, for sure, I would be perched at the top of that tree in no time.

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Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, in college.

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