The Tomboy Tree Climbing ExpertA Story by Barbara Walker
A true incident from when I was a child
I was a tomboy. I may, still, be a tomboy; at least, in spirit! I do not have the bravado, the free spirit feeling, I had those many years ago. The feeling that I could do and be anything that I wanted. The sky was the limit. You know what I had then? Guts! I would try anything! Especially if it involved speed, danger or high places.
That is why, at the age of 10, I decided to teach my younger brother, Brian, how to climb a tree. After all, my parents were divorced. There was no man around the house to teach him. Not that Dad was a tree climbing kind of guy, anyway.
So, I would teach my brother, who I called, Halfpint. I informed him that it was his lucky day. I would teach him how to, not just climb a tree but, climb it intelligently.
I gathered the necessary supplies. Halfpint and I walked down to the end of our cul de sac, where there was a very large Pepper tree. On the way, I explained to him, that there was a smart way and a dumb way to climb a tree.
The dumb way, was just to walk up to a tree, grab a branch and with much effort and strain, begin to climb. This way usually failed. Certainly, one would not reach the heights possible using this method.
We had just reached the tree, when I began to tell him of my way, the smart way, the intelligent way, to climb a tree. I explained how you must approach the tree, stop at its base and give thanks for it being there. Next, notice the branches of the tree; their placement on the trunk, their varying thicknesses. Notice how tall the tree grows.
After you have completed these steps, place your hands on the trunk of the tree. Close your eyes and become one with the tree. Breathe fully and deeply.
Now, step back. Look up and decide how high you want to be in the tree. When you have made your decision, look for the branch that is nearest the height you want to attain. Examine it with your gaze. Is it a circumference that will hold your weight? If it is, you are almost ready to make your ascent.
I had performed all of these steps, as I explained them to Halfpint. Next, I gathered my supplies; a long length of rope and a swivel hook. I attached the swivel hook to a belt loop on the front of my jeans. Then, I tied one end of the rope to the swivel hook. I tugged at it, making sure I had tied it securely. I told Halfpint to watch closely and learn. I gathered up the rope, throwing the other end high up and over the branch I had selected earlier. I patted Halfpint on the head, saying, "Watch this."
I grabbed the rope and put one foot against the tree trunk. I reached up higher on the rope and began pulling myself up the tree; walking up the trunk, as I went higher and higher. And higher. And higher.
That is when my belt loop broke. I felt myself falling through the air, with no time to realize what had happened. I landed with a thud, flat on my back.
Up to that point of time in my life, I had never experienced, what is termed as, having the wind knocked out of you. Dear reader, if you have not experienced this, let me inform you; once it happens to you, it is an experience you never forget.
When I landed on my back, from such a height, all of the air was forcibly expelled from my lungs. All the air. The fall affected my lungs, in such a way, that I was unable to take a breath in, either. It is not a sensation of holding one's breath. There is no breath to hold. My lungs were a vacuum of nothingness.
As I lay there, I looked up at Halfpint's frightened face. I struggled to speak. Slight strangling noises came from between my lips. Halfpint bent down closer to me. I managed to croak out, "Go... get... Mom."
I, still, could not get a breath, as I watched my little brother run up the street, as fast as his legs would carry him.
I looked up at the sky, knowing that I would be dead, before Mom could save me. I struggled to make my lungs work. I wanted, needed air!
Just when I, gasping, brought the tiniest bit of beautiful air into my lungs, I saw my brother. He was running towards me and he was...alone.
Halfpint came to an abrupt stop a foot away from me. Huffing and puffing, he said, "Mom says that's what you get for climbing trees."
© 2012 Barbara Walker
San Diego, CA
AboutI am retired from the Postal Service. I find I write poetry to help myself through difficult times and I have written many poems in response to the chronic pain I've been living with for 20 years. I .. more..
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