Friday, March 21, 2008

Climbing Trees

So here I am celebrating spring on the island. Now it is not such a big deal here as it was in eastern Washington where I grew up. We usually had several inches of snow on the ground when I was growing up and my way of welcoming spring was to put out a lawn chair, strip down to nothing, put on a bikini and take a book out and sit on the lawn chair for 5 minutes and read. Keep in mind that 5 minutes was about all I could stand as the temp was often around 15 degrees. This is not much of a story really just an explanation of how I welcomed spring each year. As an adult I am more comfortable with just remembering joys of springs past and going for walks in the sunshine.

So I call to memory a story that occurred in spring not so long ago. Both of our boys were young back then (around 10 to 12 years old) and they were typical boys that saw trees and had to climb them or saw streams and had to cross them or saw a snake or lizard and, well you get the idea... Anyway, both of the boys were visiting friends up in Oak Harbor on this particular spring day. The weather was glorious and to boot the "Blue Angels" were in town for an air show. As part of the show the pilots flew over Oak Harbor and landed or did "touch and goes" at the base. The boys were not allowed to go see the show up close as they did not have tickets so in their young minds they came up with the next best thing.. They would climb the trees outside of the house of their friends and they would watch the flying from the top. Never mind that the trees were huge pine trees about 80 to 100 feet tall.

So as I have been able to piece this story together from the boys and Tamey (the friend's mom) the kids were merrily climbing the tree and found a nice spot at the top where they could see the planes. Tamey was in the kitchen fixing dinner and unaware of the boys climbing activity. The first Blue Angel flew over the house and the kids really got a good eye view. As a matter of fact the boys said they could see pretty well into the cockpit of the plane. They started waving and clapping thoroughly enjoying the show. The second plane flew over and again they did the same waving and clapping and before the third plane could fly over the house the house was swarmed by the Oak Harbor police and the boys were instructed to come down off the tree through a police cars loud speaker.

When the police knocked on Tamey's door she had no idea what was wrong. When they told her that the kids were up the tree she looked at the police man and said "So?". They were not happy that the tree was so tall and that the kids were all the way on the top of it. When they called me my response was "Ya... so it was a tree and kids climb trees." "But maam this tree is a tall pine tree..." "Yeah.. so what is your point?" "It isn't safe." "Neither is a swimming pool if you're not careful but we still go swimming. My boys are careful and they do not do dangerous things generally speaking so my guess is is that the perch on that tree looked a lot worse than it was." "Maam your boys have been instructed to stay out of the tree until the show is over so the pilots wont be distracted." "Okay, that is a good reason to keep them out of the tree." The Police man told me that the pilot was the one who had called the kids in. Seems not only could the kids see the pilot clearly but he was a little dismayed to see four boys up in a tree almost level with his plane.

Later when I talked to the boys they told me that getting to the top of the tree was like climbing stairs. The branches were so close together that there really was very little way of falling off and not being stopped by one or more branches on the way down. I have to say at this point that I am not insensitive but I grew up in the country.. We climbed trees, explored caves, swam in all water, jumped from a third story hay loft into a pile of hay and did many other wonderfully adventurous and not so safe things as a youngster. I was a champion Prison Ball player in the 7th and 8th grade. I didn't ride bikes while wearing helmets and somehow I survived. This is not to say that I don't abide by safety measures learned through the years but there are times when I have to wonder if maybe we aren't making things a little to safe to sometimes enjoy. I loved the air through my hair as I went riding my bike down a hill. And I loved climbing trees to the highest points. I crawled through wheat fields on my belly spying on my family and others and I always wanted to know what was on the other side of the hill. So along with Spring here is to youth and it's invincibility! (Imaginary or otherwise!)

climbing trees on Whidbey Island

1 comment:

soubriquet said...

I loved the story! reminds me of my teen years as well, and my attemptes to climb the big tree at the bottom of the garden that leaned out over the road. It was okay to about 40 feet, then there was a patch with just smooth trunk about eight feet... after that it looked easy again, to the point where there was a perfect spot to start a tree-house.
So the plan was to bang in some six inch nails and make holds to get over the smooth patch. My friend's dad found our stash of giant nails and asked his son what they were for. Boom! parental eruption. In my house too. And that tree was off limits forever. tree climbing of any sort became a clandestine activity, so we used our youthful energy to race down hills on rickety contraptions, or make things that went bang. We were adamant that there was no risk involved whatsoever.

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