Lazy Sunday. Just as I decided to get out of my sweatpants and into clothes I can climb in, the rain started. I walked out the front door and the drops started to trickle on the fallen leaves.
The sound was quite nice actually. But my reaction was strange. I went back inside. I told my mom it was raining… but realized that doesn’t matter. I climbed everyday no matter the weather. So I better climb now before it gets heavier and all the trees are soaking wet. I went right back outside the front door. Only this time with a raincoat. And there it was… my tree.
One of those towering sycamores that are on either side of the sidewalk to the front door. I have looked at them before and thought, "no way, too big, no low branches." But I’ve been seeing old trees anew lately. More and more are becoming possibilities, and this one called to me immediately. A path was visible. Little limb offshoots went up to the top fork. The lowest was a little high but that was the biggest challenge. I tried running off the trunk but the rain and bark made it too slippery. I thought of my stilts but they are on the garage rafters. I didn’t want to have to move cars and get a ladder… a ladder! I could just get a ladder. That’s how my thought process went. So I got the old blue ladder we have had since my parents lived in England in the 70’s. I propped it against the trunk and made an easy first step. From there the climb was quite a challenge. Good strong limbs were often far apart and on different sides of the trunk. I have gotten used to holding most of my weight with one hand hold, pulling my body in and up to reach for the next. It wears on the forearms pretty fast. But I just kept going and I made it to the top of the trunk where it forks. It looks like the tree has been damaged and there is quite a nice hollowed out hole with ice and water in it.
I looked for a further up spot but the limbs are too unhealthy. So I eagerly took pictures of the house and truck just below.
I was really high up.
The rain fell gently and it felt so good. What an accomplishment! I really soaked it in.
Then I had to climb down before the limbs got too wet and slippery. The climb down was slow and I was a little scared. Some moments I really had to pause and plan, which was wearing on my arms. By the time I got to the ground my forearms felt like rocks. They shook with fatigue and it took them a few minutes to relax. What a great climb.
11-26-08: It seems the more scary a climb is, and the more it wears on and challenges my muscles, the better it is. I can see how some people might not thrive on that kind of stuff. There are other things about tree climbing that people could get into, like the view, the connection with nature, studying the bark, leaves, insects, etc. and it can be very fun. Not all trees are challenging or scary. I particularly like the thrill of danger but I have had plenty of climbs that haven’t been like that. What I am trying to say is, you should climb a tree even if my posts seem crazy to you. Every tree is different and you don’t have to climb to the top, I just like to.
I woke up Monday feeling awful. My sore throat was mostly gone but I was full of phlegm and achy. I just slept in and hung out at the house all day. The weather outside was so gross, grey, cold, and wet I had no desire to go outside. But I knew at some point I was going to have to go out there to climb. I let the day go by blowing my nose and playing on the computer while I drank tea. Then Drew got home from work and that made me realize that I needed to get to this climb before it got too late. I took a shower to warm up and try to let the steam clear my sinuses. I bundled up in all my best and warmest gear to brave the crappy conditions. Thankfully the rain had stopped and I walked slowly out the back of the house and down Cabel Street towards Adams. I took a right on Adams as I talked to Norman on the phone. I scanned either side of the street for a tree that would be easy and quick. I was in no mood for a challenge. I found one just on the other side of the fence that keeps people away from I-71. I got off the phone and started to climb onto the fence. I grabbed the first branch and it felt quite bendy. I think this kind of tree just has very bendable branches. It just means I can’t put too much weight out from the trunk. I started to climb up through the branches and it was a bit of a struggle. I hadn’t eaten very much and was weak from the sickness. But I was also lucky that as I went higher the tree became less wet and slippery and it was mostly dry at the top. That helped with grip since I was wearing my old work boots.
I soon got to the top since the tree isn’t very tall. I looked around and I was very near Spaghetti Junction and could see many lanes of the interstate.
I could also see the downtown skyline, the towers of St. Joe’s Church near my house, and lots of darkness around billboards.
I also took a few pictures of the tree I was in with flash.
I was taking some pictures with the zoom way out and then tried to capture some cars driving by just below me. I forgot to zoom back out and so I got some interesting shots. I kinda like them for their simple compositions and color.
Here is one not zoomed, but pretty out of focus.
The climb had warmed me up but I didn’t feel like staying up there very long. I put my camera way and then clumsily climbed back down breaking quite a few limbs on the way down. I got to the fence, climbed down to the sidewalk and took one last shot of the whole tree.
It wasn’t so bad out, and the climb seemed to clear my nose and I could actually breath.
3 Replies to “DAY 235”
[2007 entry response]
There must be a picture of these stilts you mention somewhere in your journal. Actually, I simply hope there are. You might include a link so as to increase the organic feel of your journal.
I forgot to tell you that Ryan and I thought of you in Nebraska. There we were, in the Lewis & Clark museum (or was it simply dedicated to Lewis), reading Lewis’ diary entries and being reminded of you, Todd C. Smith. Your discoveries are less clear than what Lewis discovered about the area’s geography and wildlife and Native American culture (the natural medicine learnings were very cool). Maybe one day we will learn that you discovered a new tree, or insect, or tree phenomenon.
Your arms shook with fatigue after that climb. Scary.
[2008 entry response]
Yeah, I have observed this: you greater enjoy more difficult climbs.
A day of blowing the nose and playing on the computer while drinking tea sounds so suburban – and warm and nice. You made sickness sound nice. Good job.
Something I just realized: You do not sound like a complainer in these entries. And this matches reality. I remember when Carden expressed his admiration of you at perhaps the 1996 Lindsey Wilson camp because you became very sick and did not complain. And look at this line at the end:
“It wasn’t so bad out, and the climb seemed to clear my nose and I could actually breath” (sic).
What a man.
DAY 174: the Stilts entry: http://dailyclimb.livejournal.com/46377.html
I don’t think you understand how hard it would be to find a new species of something in America unless I dove to the deepest lake and somehow got lucky in the rain forests of the Olympic mountains in Washington State. I am also not a naturalist. Even if I do stumble upon a new species of something I don’t know barely enough to know it. Of course, you may be assuming that would change and I would learn so much more as I progress with my climbing. But remember my interest is the climbing experience not identifying trees. It is a tangential interest that has only driven to me learn so much.
I wish I learned how to write, I wish our teachers in school were more inspiring, and I wish I had been interested in reading and writing when I was younger. Then maybe my entries would be more eye-opening and engaging.
How can I complain when I am living a life filled with things I want to do. I climb trees and make art about it and it is actually paying me enough to live off it. A little cold will not deter my happiness.
Oh! I hope that you were not dismayed by my comments. I’m surprised that you said, “I wish I learned how to write.” Someone like Carden might be able to read your entries and describe your writing style, which would imply to me that you know how to write. I’ll take a gentle stab at it: You tend to write in short sentences with a conversational style. Your writing is accessible rather than being evidently erudite. You write very clear statements that focus on the facts of your experiences. There’s a kind of purpose through process that comes through your writing. This relates to your interest in the climbing experience as opposed to objects or something else.
And I can write a lot about anything. That’s not to say it’s good or right.
You are a happy man. And that is worth saying.
Comments are closed.