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 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.