I was a notorious climber when I was a kid. Since I had to wear a uniform every day for school, I got into the habit of wearing shorts underneath after one unfortunate playground incident. I believe the term parachute panties was coined in large part because of me.
Trees were a favorite. We had a large tree beside our house in the vacant lot. I spent hours sitting up in that tree, surveying the goings on of the neighborhood about me. My mother called me Gladys Kravitz. One day I thought I’d save some time getting home to dinner, so I fashioned the rope from my mother’s clothes line and suspended it from a branch. Rather high up. The idea was to shimmy down the rope to safety. In record speed. On my first try, I ascended about 6 inches, when the rope broke. I fell all the way down and landed on my back, with the wind knocked completely out of me.
Four sets of neighbor eyes stood in a semi-circle staring down at me. Curious about what death really looked like. When I finally blinked and caught my breath, they disbanded. Disappointment apparent on their faces.
I ran home in tears. More upset about the broken clothes line than about my near death experience.
Undaunted, my tree climbing career continued. Until at some point in early adulthood, I discovered I was deeply afraid of heights. Which I have since mostly conquered.
When we moved into this house, I was pregnant with Emme. My first landscaping decision was to place two maple trees in our backyard. I campaigned hard for these trees, stating that they would some day make excellent shade trees. But secretly, I was hoping that I’d have a daughter who would climb in my footsteps. And since clothes lines were banned by our intrepid homeowners association, I had no immediate fear that she would repeat my childhood stunt.
A little over 10 years later, our maple trees (now named Lana and Mike) tower above our house. Mike leans a little to the right courtesy of a 2004 hurricane. Lana and Mike provide some shade against the blistering Florida temperatures, but they are far from climbing trees. I’m still holding out hope. Maybe for the grandchildren.
The kids still try to include Lana and Mike in their outdoor play. Yesterday, Emme threw her sister’s hot pink hula hoop far up into the branches. And there it stayed. I caught her attempting to climb up Lana’s still thin trunk. Not one single branch is sturdy enough to hold her. I stopped her, assuring her that the hurricane season was eminent, and the hula hoop would be making a return appearance to the ground, or through a neighbor’s window.
But then Fiddledaddy got in on the action. Concerned that the hot pink hula hoop could be seen by all of the houses on either side of us, he decided to take matters into his own hands.
First he threw a bright blue mat at the hula hoop. It dislodged the hula hoop, and positioned it even higher among the naked branches. And the blue mat decided to stay and keep hula hoop company.
Then he thought he’d use the yellow floral watering can to retrieve the hula hoop and bright blue mat.
This is the view of Lana from the yard. And likely the view that every neighbor within a half mile radius has as well.
(If you look closely, the watering can is just above the blue mat. Classy.)
I’m thinking that the homeowners association is going to call a special meeting to amend some of the by-laws concerning brightly colored debris high up in the landscaping. Clearly 10 years ago or so when the rules & regulations were drawn up, they had no idea who they would be dealing with.