Monday, January 9, 2012

My First Memory

Strange as it may seem, my first solid memory is of a tree.

I only vaguely remember family pets, the snow during winter, siblings going to school before I was old enough to join them, the interior of our home and parts of the yard surrounding the house.

But, when I think of our home in Indiana, my first thought turns to the tree.

It was a crabapple tree on the west side of the house my family lived in when I was born.

I distinctly remember that tree because it took at least the course of one summer for me to learn how to climb it. There was a v-shaped crook between large branches low enough to the ground for my siblings to put their foot in and climb easily.

I remember struggling to find the strength and balance to reach that space as they did and use it to follow my elder brothers and sisters up that tree. I must have been very small indeed when I first attempted this because no matter how many times I tried jumping, clambering or pulling myself up, I was unsuccessful. I was five when we moved away from Indiana, so I could have been as young as three or four when I first tried.

The upper branches my siblings played in seemed a world away to me and I had to look up at them wistfully, incapable of joining them in their fun. I suppose one could say they were cruel for not offering a hand up so I could play with them, but the parent in me says it was wise for them to leave me out. If I was not strong enough to climb the tree, would I be strong enough to keep my footing or stop myself from an accidental fall?

So, I had to wait until I was capable of getting up there on my own. There was something mysterious and magical about those elusive branches. It was the tallest place I could imagine in my young mind. It was even taller than my father, who is not a short man, by any means.

You can imagine, I think, that moment when I realized that I could finally reach my foot up there and heft myself into the branches. I scrambled up joyfully, mounting branch after branch to get as high as I dared. I was suddenly on top of the world, ruler of everything I could see. It was a giddy feeling.

I was finally a part of the magic, standing amongst the branches that had eluded me for so long.

Just a little further west was a neighborhood road. We could sit in the tree, concealed from view, watching cars and people go by.

I never ate any of the crabapples in all the hours I played in that tree. I was under the impression that they were not good to eat. My siblings said they were sour, or something to that effect. Since I have never tried a crabapple, I don't know if that is true.


Instead, as they ripened, we discovered a new use for the seemingly useless fruit. They made excellent ammunition from our leafy fort. I remember, with some chagrin, throwing crabapples at anyone who passed by close enough. I don't know if any of my projectiles ever found its mark, but I thought it was great fun trying.

I do believe that I even threw them at my elder siblings as they walked by, whether on the way home from school or from a friend's house, I don't know.

Perhaps I was just caught up in the adventure of the heights and the bravery and mischievousness that comes from being hidden. Perhaps I was just looking to pay them back for all the hours I missed out on playing up in that tree with them.

1 comment:

Rebecca said...

you should ask Melissa what she thinks about that tree. She injured her hand one summer climbing that tree.

there were a few other trees that we climbed. A strange crippled looking tree on the same side as the crab apple tree, located in the back yard was our "fort" and we played games like "star trek"...

We also had a very large black oak in the front yard that had a couple tire swings. The yard was vast and there were many places to hide and cause mischief.


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