All About The Climb

I spent a good part of Saturday inside, cleaning walls. It was a most delightful task, except for the wall part and the cleaning part. Oh, and the part where I had to remain inside on a gorgeous fall day, to my complete annoyance, in order to clean the aforementioned walls.

Sunday, therefore, I was eager to be outside, away from walls, Swiffers, and all cleaning agents. So, we all headed out to a nearby park after lunch, intending to check out some new play equipment I’d spotted on a recent walk.

We did spend a few minutes on the new equipment, but the boys soon turned their eyes away from the man-made world and toward the natural one.

I have to tell you that, after living most of my life in the Midwest, I was thrilled to move here and discover the live oak trees that grow by the coast. More than any other trees I’ve encountered, these are trees made for the express purpose of climbing, I think. The way their branches spread outward, both sinuous and sturdy, is a thing of beauty and a thing that must call to every child who’s ever had the good fortune to walk past one.

My younger son, in his self-bequeathed role as initiator, began the transition from the man-made to the natural by moving, in the space of two seconds, from the playground equipment to the nearest tree and heading upward. My older son was hot on his trail.

When they got stuck at a certain point on the tree, I made a passing comment that LCB should show them how it’s done. Apparently, the live oaks call to boys both big and small, because, despite his improper footwear, I didn’t have to say it twice. I blinked, and there was LCB.

And so we spent the next half hour, with the males in the family moving from branch to branch and tree to tree, until my daughter, tired of watching the boys have all the fun and tired of legs not quite long enough yet to climb with much agility, announced she was headed to the beach. I was agreeable, so I followed her.

She stuffed her little pockets with shells, as is her habit,

and then spent a couple of minutes quietly following this guy.

Later, the boys went out again, this time a little closer to home, and asked me to come with them, so they could show me some other trees they had found, ripe for the climbing.

Today after school, having forgotten about yesterday’s adventures, they didn’t want to go outside, and begged to stay inside and play video games instead. I laughed that this would come from the boys of yesterday, from the boys who scoffed at me when I brought home the movie Swiss Family Robinson a month or so ago, until I popped it in the DVD player and they sat, entranced from the opening scene and for the duration, afterward begging to move to a deserted island and build a tree house, undeterred by the absence of video games in such a residence.

Without addressing their forgetfulness, I insisted they go outside for a while, so they went, dragging their feet and looking generally downtrodden. I listened out the window for a minute after they left, to the sounds of children searching for something to occupy themselves with. Then, there was the moment where they remembered trees and climbing and all the possibilities, and next thing I knew, two hours had gone by and I was cajoling them back inside again for dinner, all of us wondering where the time had gone.

It’s enough to make me want to be a kid again, when a tree is all it takes to travel back to Neverland.

5 Comment

  1. Ah, yes. Boys and trees–a theme that I know well. Although I used to love to climb trees as a kid, now I would rather be the beach comber in search of treasure.

  2. Robin says: Reply

    I grew up in Jacksonville, FL and was transported back in time reading of your boys and the live oak trees. Behind our little school, there was a very old – probably several hundred years old — live oak tree with branches that went out forever and dipped and curved and we lived in that tree at recess. We never tired of it. Thank you for the happy memory!

    1. What a great memory! I wish I could have grown up with live oak trees. My elementary school in the north suburbs of Chicago was built on what had once been corn fields, as was the house I lived in, so there were virtually no trees to speak of at all. Now, I looks at those trees and think of all the great possibilities for building tree houses, something I dreamed of as a child but never had.

  3. What sweet pictures of your girl… You’ll remember these days forever!
    And what a beautiful sunset ~ thank you for sharing!

    1. Thanks. I’m sure I will, and can’t help but wish they’d last forever.

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