When you’re young, every tree that you see is touching the sky. Stretching its bony fingers right out until it’s so far up in the atmosphere that you’re not sure that it can go any further. Each tree holds nothing but possibility and mystery. This sense of wonder naturally declines over the years, but it is possible to stop its fall. Each tree is judged by its top most branches and it’s lowest branches. Will they hold your weight when you get there, and are they low and strong enough to get you up into the tree, respectively. The middle of the tree is judged purely as being there, if the top and bottom are good enough then there will always be a way to traverse the middle section. It’s just a case of starting and finishing.
Now that we’re bigger, the lower branches are lower. Which is useful when climbing. It’s also a lot easier to judge the thickness of the lower branches and whether they will be able to hold your weight when you go to pull yourself up. Because there’s nothing more embarrassing than trying to climb a tree and the entire branch coming off in your hand. Of course, sometimes the wood has rotted and you don’t realise and the whole thing falls apart anyway. But in life you just have to get used to that kind of thing happening once in a while. Just don’t let it put you off climbing trees in the future.
Now we’re bigger we have the strength to easily climb the trees. That does take some of the challenge out of finding just the right route up the tree as you had when you were smaller. But there are new challenges because of your size, some of those old promising branches are now far too small. Or you’re just a little too awkwardly sized to get over those branches. But all in all you’re definitely at an advantage being bigger when it comes to tree climbing. The routes that were previously out of reach are now so easy as to be child’s play. You can rush straight up that tree now. But I would recommend a slow ascent. Because remember, the route back down is even more troublesome now.
The descent was always the part that I feared when tree climbing as a child. Lowering yourself blindly off of branches in the hope that hadn’t misjudged and that there would actually be the branch under you that you thought was under you. But it was that fear that made it all the more exciting wasn’t it? Knowing that you may just miss and tumble from the tree. It happened a few times, and never hurt as much in hindsight. I can’t remember a time that I actually hurt myself falling from a tree. Even when I fell onto a pile of bricks. Sometimes a tree fall is just magic in small doses. Everyone is allowed little bits of luck, but I think I spent all of my luck allowance on tree falling.
The final disadvantage to being bigger and climbing trees is how to get back to the ground once you are the lowest branch. The distance is further exaggerated by your new found height. Of course this is all relative to how much you grew. But the difference between your 5’4 self trying to judge height from the bottom branch of a tree is obviously much different to your new found 6’4 trying to judge the same height. That foot is a lot further. Even if you know that you won’t be falling any further, you can’t help but feel it. But at least now that you’re bigger you won’t cry when you hit the ground. Will you?