UNEQUALED TREE CLIMBERS
Revised 20 Aug 2014
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UNEQUALED TREE CLIMBERS
I was given my first year long YMCA membership when I was eight years old. I have more memories of time spent in the park than time in the building. After swimming lessons we were supposed to wait out front for mom or dad to pick us up. Across the street was the park that followed the river. In this park there were huge trees, older than the hotel and the park itself. There were willow trees and elms and whatever you find in old parks. We spent hours climbing and exploring. My brothers and I, Randy in particular, being the next closest in age, discovered that there just weren’t any other boys with our talents. We learned to climb the willow trees from the other end. We would jump until we could grasp the ends of the hanging branches and pull ourselves up the small ends to the thicker parts of the branches and eventually the trunk where we could go higher. Our invention was necessitated because the trunks had no branches to grasp so we either had to go barefoot to “walk” up with hands grasping the serrated bark or slide up and get scraped legs and arms. Climbing the other ends was easier. All we had to do was keep our feet to the ground in case the branch broke and we fell. Getting out of a tree was no problem. Eventually we learned to not fall.
We loved that park and had favorite trees for various games. I remember losing grip, sliding off the branches and landing flat on my back: winded, struggling to breath, lying in the grass. Everyone falls and it deterred others. Was I lucky or was it providence that, of all the times I fell out of a tree, I never broke my neck or something else?
We were the best climbers, part of the thrill of being “daredevils”. We did whatever we were dared to do. We would go higher than anyone else in these trees, we would jump from higher, and we could get up trees no-one else would even try.
Recently I found an old picture of another tree climbing experience when I was 20 years old. I climbed a very tall tree for a view of the river valley of a river we were canoeing. The tree was on the edge of a cliff. With the tree and the cliff, and my friend taking the picture from the river bed, I must have been at least100 feet above the river, a straight drop from the tree to river. If you ask I will show the speck in the picture that is myself.
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