An ash tree in the front yard of my childhood home had one horizontal limb that was the way up. I’d grab with both hands, swing upside down, hook my leg over the branch and wheee circle my body up like a budding gymnast and latch onto the limb above. Off the ground, ascending into another world, where squirrels flitted their bushy tails and robins rested with wriggling worms in their beaks.
I’d hug the furrowed trunk, earthy bark rubbing itself on my palms. Sometimes I scraped my legs maneuvering around a tricky spot. I could continue up or veer off onto a major limb going to the side and climb a whole other section of the tree. Sometimes I did that and just rested on that fat limb. Looking. Looking. There’s my dad bringing out the lawnmower. My mother, carrying a bunch of sticks, cleaning around the bushes at the side of the house. Traffic going by on the busy road.
They never knew I was there, hidden in the branches of the ash tree, wondering what it would be like to scamper like a squirrel or crawl like a beetle.
Why couldn’t I do that? Why? Fly away like a bird—just decide to fly—lift off and float away, high over the limbs of the ash tree in the yard of my childhood home.