When I was a kid if I didn’t come home muddy or bloody or both, I just didn’t have much of a day. I spent a lot of the days of my youth out in the woods. Mostly I was just wandering around not doing much of anything. But there was this one area not too far from my mom and dad’s house that was pretty swampy. Heck, I’m talking like there was just one. If you’ve ever been to northeastern North Carolina you know that the part that isn’t river or sound is almost all completely swamp. But this particular area had the coolest trees growing in it. I don’t know what kind they were but they were only about 6 inches in diameter and were all 30 feet tall. I loved to go out in the swamp… leaping from little dry island to dry island (dry is a relative term here… there was nothing really dry….. including me!) until I got to just the right tree. I would then start climbing. These trees had no branches except right at the very top so it was easy to just shimmy right on up them.
As I got higher and higher, the tree of course got smaller and smaller. I could feel the tree starting to lean because of my body weight. Once you got high enough, your body weight would cause the tree to bend all the way over taking you all the way back to the ground. It was like a carnival ride to me!
Occasionally though, I would select a tree that had a weak spot in it. This usually led to the tree just snapping off instead of giving me the nice gentle ride I had anticipated. This made for very short and sometimes quite painful trips back to the ground. You may scrape a shin or tear your pants or end up with mud and water over the top of your shoes but that didn’t matter… because there was another tree just waiting to be climbed and ridden ever so gently back to earth.
In addition to these trees, there were also some large pine trees growing in some vacant lots in my parent’s neighborhood. These were large pines that have been there for a long time and were really tall. Lucky for me, they had branches low enough that I could reach… and if I could reach the branches… that obviously meant God wanted me to climb it!
I loved climbing those trees especially in March and April. In those months we were just started to feel the promise of spring again… and more importantly, we had lots and lots of wind! I would climb to the tops of those trees and the wind some days would be whipping so much that it felt like it would throw you right out! I would just sit up there and ride the winds with those pines…. what an exhilaration that was!
That was the best. Oh wait… I think I just heard my sister calling for me…. it must be time to eat! Guess it’s time to climb down for a while… but I know I’ll be back up here again soon.