|My mother and father under the tree|
There was a knack to getting up there. First we had to get one foot in an easy foothold a few feet off the ground, and then stretch up and grab the one branch that was small enough for our small hands to grasp and pull ourselves up into the air high enough to reach out for the next branch across. Then we could scramble up to the platform, holding tight in case we fell down.
The day came that I had grown that little bit too much. I reached for the branch and pulled but it suddenly snapped, sending me sliding and crashing down the trunk to the ground.
This sounds ridiculous compared with the giant redwood tree that Julia Butterfly Hill climbed in 1997. That tree, which she named Luna, stood not twenty but two hundred feet tall, and Julia stayed high in a shelter in its branches not for half an hour, but for 738 days, through rain and storms, tossed this way and that.
|The wood where I played|
The stream and the wood and the garden are still there to this day, and that makes me happy. I have moved to the West Country, my brother now lives 150 miles away and my mother and father now tend a garden in Paradise. I think we all outgrow our tree in the end, but nonetheless a part of me is still a small boy, perched breathless and excited in a tree 60 feet away from home.