Trees are for Climbing

There are times, as a mom, you feel as if you’ve been privileged to witness something magical and transformative in your child’s life.  Such was the case last Sunday when Maddie and I ventured out to our neighborhood park.

Over the years, we’ve often gone to the park.  We swing a bit together.  I sit and draw or knit while she plays on the various jungle gym sorts of things at our park.  She is 10 years old now.  Most of the slides-n-such are getting too little for her.  I think that’s why she noticed the tree for the first time.

Perhaps it is also because the tree is now the right size for climbing.  I wish I knew what kind of tree…an apple I think.  She asked for help getting up and at first, she was doubtful she could actually climb the tree at all.  With a little encouragement and coaching as to how one climbs a tree, she was soon making her way up and down and all around the tree.  She wore the biggest smile, whispering over and over, “I love this tree…I love climbing trees…what a pretty tree…this is so fun!”  Higher and higher she challenged herself til she reached the point where she could go no further.  Coming down presented some difficulty, mostly in wide-eyed-trembly-fear, not in ability.  Once down, she was up climbing it again and loathe to be told it was dinner time.  She hugged the tree good-bye and asked if we could come every day! We’re headed there as soon as I finish blogging!

It reminded me of another girl of mine who loved climbing trees!  Still does!  My oldest daughter Catherine had the same magical love for climbing trees when she was little.  I pulled out a framed painting I had made of her dated 9/01.  Wow.  Has it really been 11 years?  Catherine would have been almost 7 years old and I remember painting this half-sheet watercolor of her from a photo I took of her climbing in the incredible old Magnolia Tree at Reynolda Gardens in Winston-Salem.  We lived in Winston at the time (only 15 minutes from here), and made excursions to the Gardens on a regular basis.  Catherine and her brother would spend an hour climbing around in the branches of this wonderful tree.

And it reminds me of another little girl who loved climbing trees.  The first house where I lived as a young girl in Boone, NC had two apple trees in it’s front yard.  This house and the large yard surrounding it, remains a magical place in my memories.  Vaulted ceiling in the front living room, with a balcony up the stairs to all the bedrooms, a huge front porch (screened in I believe), apple and plum trees everywhere, an awesome backyard for playing, a monkey swing in the side yard I spent many hours on, and several Christmas trees planted along the other side from each year when my parents purchased a balled Christmas tree!!  Oh how I loved that house!  It was big enough to ride our hoppity hops INSIDE the house!  And there was this gorgeous sun room off the kitchen/eat-in area that was so fun to hang out in.

Well, back to those apple trees.  One “belonged” to me; one to my brother.  We climbed and played in these trees for hours on end, day after day.  All sorts of imagined tales we acted out pretending our trees were: ships, forts, etc.  I do wish my kids had the pleasure of a tree in their own yard they could visit and climb whenever they wanted.  But alas, we live in a suburban neighborhood with nary a tree big enough for climbing.

I have a feeling I’ll be spending more time at the park so Maddie can visit her tree.  Catherine said she wanted to go too! Must take my sketchbook and pens to document the magic!