I’m sitting in a tree house at a friend’s cabin along the Gallatin River near Yellowstone Park in Montana. There is sun filtering through the branches of pines landing on spots of grass and wild roses , now late in the season, the branches are red spotted with rose hips. I’m in a tree house. I didn’t have a tree house when I was a kid though I think I remember my brothers pounding a couple of boards up in the crotch of a maple tree in our back yard.
Yet my childhood was filled with trees. In the Hoosier Midwest farmland there were maples, oak, hickory, walnut, tulip, cherry, apple and pear and more. Trees viewed by a child seem tall and permanent. These trees filled my childhood with all kinds of activity. Trees provided branches for swords, and scepters of power, whirligigs for musical kazoos, nuts for cracking, fruits for treats. I climbed in trees, sat under trees and sometime read under trees, leaning against the textured trunk for a backrest.
I collected 20 different leaves, pressing them flat and labeling them to identify their uniqueness for an 8th grade science project. In the branches overhead birds raise their babies, our cats climbed up to terrorize them, and life and death drama appeared right in the middle of a summer day.