Kids in trees are the natural order of things like bears in dens, or billy goats gruff on rocky outcrops. Trees are a roosting spot like no other free from the ground’s plodding predictability. The cool rustle of green’s shifting shades is a come hither and climb invitation. Hands and feet seek purchases pressing hard and making imprints against ridged, textured bark. From on high eyes pop and vistas roll away into the farther distance.
This summer and fall it’s tree-a-go-go in the backyard PlayLAB. Aerial is the unrivaled attraction and trees become the default play zone. It seems like the climbable trees all have their own complement of kids with disembodied voices and eyes squinting through leaves. It’s a wonderful state of affairs until the unrelenting winds and thrashing rain of Hurricane Dorian fells three trees, friends really, members of the neighbourhood gang.
In one afternoon’s blow years of familiarity and fun are vanquished. No longer will super heroes, engineers, builders and highwire artists make the trees central elements of ever changing stories. No longer will shimmering whispers in the boughs precede a rainy wind’s arrival. The reduction in enticing billowing green means fewer birds to nest, less morning song.
Super Heroes Secret Lair
It is more difficult to experiment now. Hammocks, zip lines, looped ropes, pulleys and bridges will struggle to see the light of day in the backyard PlayLAB. And what of the drop down grin ‘n gasp when a tree dweller lands with a cushioned bump on the ground giving a start to an unsuspecting friend passing by underneath. These surprise gotcha moments are gone as are the hiding places for myriad games.
Many aerial adventures are preserved in images and memories. Parts of the tree have been repurposed. Twigs and kindling fuel fire. Stouter branches are walking sticks for Cub Scouts. For now, the trunks are testaments to the fragility of great strength and the resilience of children in accepting changed circumstances.
Before the snap
There is one tree left in the PlayLAB. It is in frequent use. I believe the kids have a better appreciation for its presence, for its possibilities.
Thanks trees, we miss you….