December 2009 – Week 4

I am still alive. And, yes, I am still climbing trees… but things have changed a little. I’ll get to that shortly. But first I must finish posting my climbs from the end of 2009. Below you will find some more entries with family around the holidays and me playing and experimenting a little with photos.

The big entry for the post is Day 1000. It has become my turning point. Though I am still climbing daily, I have stopped documenting them regularly. You may protest, but it is already too late. I have not taken pictures on every climb since then and have not written down where they were. My memory is good but there have been too many unrecorded climbs for me to be able to piece it back together for posterity. And I am fine with that. I am moving on from the responsibilities of the Daily Climb project. What is really important is that tree climbing makes me happy. It is my daily ritual that brings me peace and perspective. That won’t stop, but the daily tasks of documentation will.

I will, however, continue to take my camera everywhere I go and if the experience is memorable I will share it with you here. I have some travels coming up and I am sure I’ll post. So stay tuned for the new and irregular posts. Breaking routine is a good thing.

DAY 993 12.22.09 – Fish Taco Party at Ty’s place. It’s becoming an annual holiday tradition. With delicious fried tacos, a pinata, and the game Celebrity. And since I went last year and left the party, walked to Highland Middle School and climbed a tree, I did the same thing this year. The same tree too. I nice big, sprawling Maple with many limbs. Only it had been trimmed due to the ice storm and many branches I remembered were gone. (And whatever tree service did it, did a poor job.) But I still managed to climb pretty high. Not as high as last year, but decent.

Then on the way down I got stuck. I went a different way than I had gone up and I found myself without a way down. Until I reached my foot around the massive trunk and was able to reach my toe to another limb. I gripped tightly with my fingers and moved my body too. Ahh, I love solving tree puzzles. And the party was great too. Team Los Tigres en Fuego totally kicked ass at Celebrity.

(Throwing in a few photos of my nephews Mitchell and Jason from that day as well… cause they are cute.)

DAY 994 12.23.09 – I was chatting online with Natalie who was at an internet cafe in Mexico. I realized it was getting late and hadn’t climbed yet but didn’t want to stop chatting. So I looked out the front window of my house and spotted a tree I had yet to climb. I ran out front, scrambled up the tree to the top and took some pictures of the neighborhood and distant skyline.

I swayed in the top and took in the cold air. Then set back down, slid to the ground and hurried back inside just in time to say good bye to Nat who had to go. For such a rushed tree climb it was still really good.

DAY 995 12.24.09 – Went to Upper Sandusky, OH with my parents to visit my grandma. I folded paper boxes the whole drive there and it made the time fly. That night while my parents were at the night mass, I took a walk and found a big tree behind a warehouse building.

It was a good challenging climb with just a little bit of snow in the branches. I got to the top and could see the distant courthouse of the small town.

Some cop cars came racing down the street and I was a little nervous but they turned and sped away.

There were also cars in the lot next to me and one guy was loading his trunk. I froze whenever I thought he was in a position to see me. I finally just climbed the rest of the way down when the coast was clear.

DAY 996 12.25.09 – Christmas. My uncle Jeff drove me, Julie, Kelley, and Ron to the fair grounds. I found a tree with a badly damaged trunk whose limbs were covered in a slippery, mossy fungus. I didn’t get as high as I wanted, but I got up to a point my family thought was pretty high. They watched from below.

Jeff took pictures.

Thanks Jeff. It’s nice to have family interested in what I do. It was a nice gift for the day.

DAY 997 12.26.09 – There is a big light display in the park in Upper Sandusky. After dinner we drove through and I took a couple shots through the car window.

Then back at home I climbed one of the Red Maples in my grandma’s front yard.

It was cold and I was in no mood to go exploring for a new tree. At the top I experimented with low light, high ISO. Very grainy… heightened a little in Photoshop.

DAY 998 12.27.09 – My parents and I drove back to KY. Then I drove back to my place in the evening. I usually go highway 42 (back roads) instead of I-71. I hate the interstate. So on the way I stopped at the St. Francis Elementary school and climbed a decent little tree in the parking lot.

My truck tires made some nice lines in the fresh snow.

It was damn cold, but the moon was so bright.

DAY 999 12.28.09 – I hung out with my friend Charlotte. We did some shopping and then stopped at Seneca Park to climb a tree.

The air was bitter cold. I helped Charlotte onto the first branch and took a picture.

Then she came down and I went up. I scared a squirrel out of its nest as I went up. At the top the squirrel watched me closely.

A woman walking her dog did as well and stopped to tell me to get down or I’ll get hurt. Charlotte told her I did this everyday and that I’d be fine. She walked away very upset. Silly people. As I climbed down the squirrel didn’t budge. I came within a foot of him. I guess he was standing his ground and guarding the nest.

DAY 1000 12.29.09 – Day One Thousand! Sounds big. The sky was clear and the sun was out. So I figured I’d try to go somewhere I had never been in town and find a nice challenging tree. I drove to Our Lady of Peace on Newburg Road. I had looked on Google Maps and saw there was a big area of woods behind the OLoP and St. X high school. When I walked around the building I discovered a big field with a playground and pond with geese. There were a few trees and on was a huge Sycamore. From a distance it seemed impossible to climb. But as I got closer I saw one branch on the side that created the first step.

I sized it up and went for it. A little knot at knee level helped my get the extra inches I needed to reach that first branch. Then I scrambled up.

I had trouble transferring over to the large limb. There was a big dead piece of wood crammed in the crotch of the limb and I wasn’t sure if it was going to support me or slip off taking me with it. I debated and tested for a few minutes then finally just went for it. It held and I then looked up for my next step. I little reaching, stretching and maneuvering and I was up again. I rotated around the trunk and made it up one more branch before I ran out of options. I was really hoping to get to the top of this massive tree, but the risks and reaches were too great. I stopped there, took a seat and started to shoot.

Then I moved back down one limb and shot many more.

I put the camera back in my pocket and soaked in the warm sun and the accomplishment. It’s been a long journey and even after 1000 days, this tree climb was still challenging, still made me happy, and still brought me the peace and quiet, the break from the day and calming of the mind that I so badly need. I have found my meditative practice that balances me and I am so grateful to the trees.

I climbed down with some difficulty reversing the challenging moves. Then I shot a couple pictures of me standing next to the tree.

As I walked back through the field towards my truck I heard geese in the sky. They were flying in formation and making large circles. At first I thought it was pointless till I realized they were climbing higher and higher with every circle. They got up so high they became white dots and the deep blue sky.

DAY 1001 12.30.09 – I went to Parkour at the Waterfront. Mark introduced us to a new game called PDQ (pretty damn quick).

You start out together, one person counts to three and yells PDQ and everyone scatters away from each other with 3 steps. Everyone moves one step at a time and you try to step on someone’s toe to get them out. I climbed into a nearby River Birch.

Jeremy approached my and I kept trying to inch my way up the small limbs. Then I hung out in an attempt to position myself to pounce on Jeremy’s toe. But then the branch broke and I fell to the ground and Jeremy stepped on my foot in the process. It was worth the try.

DAY 1002 12.31.09 – New Year’s Eve at Headliners to see The Fervor and Arnett Hollow. I have always been interested in the small plane that appears to have crashed on the hill next to Headliners.

Before I went in I walked to the hill, Climbed up the muddy and slippery slope to the base of a tree that stands just behind and above the plane. I climbed up the trunk and shimmied up the arching branch. I got to a stopping place and took pictures.

The plane is cabled into position and thus I assume was placed there and not a result of an actual crash. I really wanted to get a picture of the blue moon but it was pretty cloudy.

The night was cold and damp. I was covered in tree muck but it was nice to have a little quiet time to myself before being in a loud crowd. I slid back down and scrambled down the hill. I ran into a guy I knew from high school who is in Arnett Hollow. We exchanged a few pleasant words and then I went inside to bring in the new year.

(I’ll end with a few choice shots from The Fervor set. Great show guys.)

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