Climb a tree
Week twenty in 'wake up'
A smile cracked across my face when I read the challenge for week twenty of ‘wake up’; climb a tree for four days. What a simple and fun idea I thought. I hadn’t climbed a tree for decades! I couldn’t remember the last time I did it but I remembered it was fun and all part of growing up. That was a long time ago. What did a middle aged man (still feeling like a teenager on most days) climbing a tree feel like? Read on…
My choice of tree was easy because I walk past it six times a day taking Bobby out. It’s an ordinary tree to look at but with a little secret; near by I planted some seeds for another ‘wake up’ experiment (shush don’t tell anybody). I could only pick this tree. Because I hadn’t climbed trees for such a long time I walked up to it feeling like a gladiator bathed in thunderous applause for what I was about to do. I strode up to it with an air of confidence and quickly climbed it. I stopped around ten feet up and observed the scene. I realised I was smiling like a madman. I felt alive as I scanned the wooded vista but then realised I have a fear of heights. This made me feel more of a madman. My adrenaline was racing and my heart was thumping. I looked down and it seemed a long way down. As quickly as I had got up there I carefully came down.
Back on terra firma, safe and sound my heart still ponded but I felt alive and energised. I smiled at the thought that if I’d fallen out of the tree the Great Wake Up would have been the Great Break Up (of bones, ahem). The challenge was so much fun that I wish someone else was there to enjoy it with me. About ten minutes later I noticed I felt packed with energy and realised that this is what kids get out of climbing trees.
I walked over to a tree that I’d had my eye on to climb but realised when I got there it was impossible to get a footing – I laughed out loud, what a deceiving tree I thought. I quickly looked around to save face and chose a tree nearby. When I went to climb it I was unsure if it would hold my weight and I declined to climb it – more laughter ensued, I didn’t want to destroy nature I wanted to embrace it. To the third tree and this time I found success. This tree looked like one of those climbing frames from school back in the day, it was made to climb. When I climbed a few feet up it there was an amazing connection and it felt like I was hugging the tree! Birds chirped away in celebration as if I’d found some magic. It was a brief but beautiful moment. When I climbed down and walked home savouring the moment the mid-morning sun warmed my face and the experience made me feel fresh and alive and in a way blessed – I’m discovering all this beauty all the time now – it’s a drug.
For some reason I decided to go back to the second tree. I couldn’t work out my logic in this thought process but just went with it. After climbing the tree again I noticed how some of its branches entwined with other trees like a giant spiders web. I felt relaxed and noticed myself singing a Blonde song (bizarre) and briefly talking to a nearby tree – I think I must be losing it or somehow nature is stirring some innocence in me by weaving more magic around me. Whatever it is its quite beautiful.
I was very tempted to go back to my special tree but decided to cast the net a little further. On my search I realised there are a couple of different types of tree. There are those that you can climb, those that are impossible to climb and those that just have to be marvelled at. I eventually found a tree that couldn’t really be climbed but it did have a kind of step to climb onto.
I gratefully took up the invite and stepped into the tree. The step was about a foot off the ground. Whilst here there was a feeling that I could be inside the tree. I felt at one with it. I smelt its bark and ran my hand along its branches. There really was a connection. The weather all morning had been wet and the wet bark felt almost like the tree was breathing, sweating. I looked up to the top of the tree and it really felt like I was part of it. I stood in the silence listening to nearby birds and traffic further away. The tree was silent and strong. By now I had to admit that the tree was clearly a she. There really was a connection.
Then with time passing by I stepped off her and away from her, observing her as I did so. She was a friendly tree, old and knowledgeable. I hoped she would realise I was a friend.
I have always loved trees. I often stop at a tree and admire it for its character. Sarah just looks on and thinks I’m having a ‘hippy’ moment. I’m not (and don’t ever call me a hippy) I just admire the beauty I can see. I have always had an admiration for trees and always drew them when I was younger. They are all different, and you never see two trees that look alike. We all know the benefits of them and yet we take them for granted as we rush around and run our lives on autopilot. This challenge was great fun. I found my trees in safe places away from prying eyes and mockery. The overall effect of this challenge rekindled some natural inner magic from my past. I’m left feeling I need to climb when the mood takes me, embrace and feel more because that’s when I truly connect to nature.