How do you like to go up in a swing,
Up in the air so blue?
Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing
Ever a child can do!
Up in the air and over the wall,
Till I can see so wide,
River and trees and cattle and all
Over the countryside—
Till I look down on the garden green,
Down on the roof so brown—
Up in the air I go flying again,
Up in the air and down!
Notice the swinging movement of the poem. Brilliant.
Apparently this was a “gateway” poem for me because I wanted bigger and better. Not only poems, but going up in the air so blue. So, I climbed trees. Every tree in our neighborhood no matter what kind or size. We even tried those Pasadena palm trees, albeit with little success. But the pine trees and deodars had handles. So up we went. Me and my pals.
I would not let my kids or grandkids do this. They could get killed. So could you, so don’t try this at home. That is my OFFICIAL DISCLAIMER. I’m serious. When people my age were growing up we had no bike helmets, no seat belts, I used to drive to the rifle range holding a .22 caliber rifle while riding my little banana seat Sting-Ray bike. On hot days if you turned on the fan, there was no safety screen. Stick your fingers in and chop ‘em off. Natural selection was how we rolled.
Man, the world was different. On non-school days, I inhaled breakfast, and blasted out the kitchen door to explore, often for the whole day or until I got hungry.
But those trees. Take a look at some tall trees. Imagine climbing them with no harness or helmet. To the tippy top. The key is to hold on for dear life. Literally. But the higher I went the stronger my grip. Terror is a motivator. But so is bliss and exhilaration. I could see for a hundred miles. I knew enough to never let go completely.
There are bugs up there. And floaty things. Birds fly by and say, “Good job, now try your wings”. I am still working on that.
By the way, my favorite climbing tree was the deodar. The word comes from Sanskrit. It means, “divine tree”.