Wednesday, 7 March 2012

The Tree

The tree was our play place in 1978. It was an old oak near the edge of a field that my friends and I would spend hours playing around, on, under and in. Someone at some point had nailed boards to make it easier to climb, I guess they had hoped to build a tree house someday, and never got around to it. But that didn't matter to us, the tree was so sprawling with branches that several of us managed to get into it at once and play.

When you're nine and hiding in a huge oak tree you feel like you're on top of the world. You can see roof tops, and it feels as if birds fly under you instead of over you. We were fearless there, nobody ever felt like they would fall out, and nobody ever did, but that didn't ease our parent's fears about the tree. To us it was a wonderland.

Summer days were spent there. It was our meeting place, our starting place for adventures, we even tried to finish the tree house at one point, but we weren't allowed to borrow the tools we needed from our homes. Long summer days turned into long fall days, and eventually we'd have to leave the tree to it's winter state, stripped of it's foliage, then we played in the snow, under the tree of course.

From the tree we could see our school - Roseville Public; way off in the distance, across a huge park. We could also see the townhouses that made up Roseville, and the farmers fields that at that time came right to the edge of the park, and only yards from the tree. Sometimes we would play hide and seek in the fields when the corn was up, until we were chased out or left for something more adventurous to do. But the tree was always our way back. We never got lost as long as we could see it.

I only lived there for a year, but that was one of the best summer's I'd ever had. When we moved away I didn't think about the tree too often, being as young as I was I found other places to occupy my energy.

But I never forgot about the tree.

Last night I had a panic attack that was worse than any I've had in months. Kim sat with me and walked me through a peaceful place. In her calming way, she directed my thoughts to a tree in a field, on a bright summer day. A tree so big it's shadow cast out across the waving grass a hundred yards from it's source. As I calmed myself down, I saw my tree. It was like she was in my head. My memories immediately fell back to 1978 and being a young boy playing with my friends at the tree.

It's still there. My son and I went for a long bike ride a while back and we found ourselves in Roseville. I found the tree. It was still healthy and large, but not as big as I remember it. The boards were gone, but I could remember where every one was. I stood there for a while staring at it, and a flood of memories came flowing back, my friends, the branches, meeting under the tree, all of it. The field in the back is now full of factories, but the park and school are still there. What bothered me most though, was that the tree was now on private property of a factory, surrounded by an eight foot fence. No longer would young boys be climbing it. It was so close, yet so far. But at least it's a part of my youth I can still see, even if I can't climb it anymore.

Thank you Kim, for bringing this memory back to me.

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