Paris Goodnight: Climbing trees isn’t for older folks or the fainthearted

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 11, 2022

December may not ordinarily be the time when you think about climbing trees, and if you’re my age you probably shouldn’t be thinking about doing such things anyway. But as I look out across the landscape I see that almost all the leaves are down now except for a few oak stragglers that always seem to be the last to let go around my neighborhood. That allows open viewing of blue skies on nice days and plenty of stars to see on crisp, clear nights.

If you’re like me, I bet you wish you could still climb trees like you did when you were a kid. Nothing was as much fun as getting up on a high limb and looking out over the great wide open and seeing things from a much different perspective than being down so low (as little kids often feel they are since they have to always look up to the adults). You just can’t see all the sights that surely the bigger kids or older folks are getting to enjoy, especially if you’re stuck in a huge crowd of people.

But if you’re high up in a tree, you have no such limitations.

Then, when you get older, other interests take over and you don’t get to enjoy the thrill of climbing up among the branches any more.

I had a hand on a limb above me on one of the last times I tried such an endeavor, but the limb I was standing on broke off and I spent a moment in midair wondering if I was going to land on the deck below and live to tell about it or on the other side and much farther down to the ground, where my chances of getting up easily were not good.

Luckily I did land mostly on my back on the deck boards, and though it wasn’t easy getting my breath back or my bearings right away, I did slowly realize that nothing was broken and I was going to be OK.

When I got my wits about me, I decided then and there that I would not be climbing trees any more. I’ve pretty much stuck to that resolution but I did find myself up in a smaller apple tree in the backyard not too long ago, just checking out which branches will need to be trimmed later in the winter or in early spring when I get around to that project. It was good fun being back up in the air but it’s not as easy getting up there as it used to be. There’s a little more weight to hoist these days and the arms aren’t quite as strong as they should be after all the years of sitting in front of a computer instead of out chopping wood or hoisting hay bales.

I don’t really know why I continue to work with that tree anyway since it’s never produced fruit, though I’ve tried planting a crabapple tree to cross pollinate it and even followed the old wives’ tale of “whomping” it to get the apples to grow.

I’ll give it a few more years, but otherwise it may end up like the smaller oak tree that I thought was a pomegranate tree we had planted out front until later  realizing it wasn’t. I broke out the ax and did a little wood chopping on that one, but I’m sure I’d have to do a lot more of that to get back into any real peak tree-climbing shape. And that would only give the neighbors more reason to question my sanity if they saw me up there gazing out from some tall branch just before it snapped.

Paris Goodnight is editor of the Salisbury Post.