I Was Once A Swinger of Birches

So was I once myself a swinger of birches/And so I dream of going back to be.~from ‘Birches’ by Robert Frost

I’ve always felt a connection to the poem Birches, and I made my heroine in my most recent book share my affinity for the very line of poetry I posted above. As anyone who reads my blog knows, I love trees. I have written many posts in the past about trees, and I am quite sure this post will not be my last.

A few days ago my dear hubby and I spent the day together. We didn’t do anything too special, it was amazing enough to have the same day off. Our first in six weeks.

The two of us were standing outside under a pine tree, relaxing, when the breeze shifted and I was hit with the undeniable smell of piney goodness.

“Mmm. You smell that?” I asked.

“No,” he said. I have to remind myself that most people can’t smell what I do. I have the olfactory senses of a bloodhound.

“I do, it’s the tree. See the sap?” I asked as I pointed to the crystallized substance coming out of the bark.

I leaned my head back as far as I could to see all the way to the top of the tree. I stared longingly at the branches. If only…

“Did you ever climb trees as a kid?” I asked him.

“Yeah, a little bit,” he said.

I was the opposite. I used to practically live in trees. In fact, I still have a scar under my chin to this day that I got at age two because my mom had forbidden me to climb our mulberry tree. I decided I could still get berries without climbing in the tree, if I just jumped up and hit the branches with a plastic shovel. I lost my footing on one of my jumps and fell and my chin landed on a rock or an exposed root. I can’t remember which. Anyway, I digress.

“I used to love climbing trees. I wish I still could,” I said wistfully as I gazed at the branches.

My husband kind of shrugged off my comment, and we walked away from the tree shortly after that. But, ever since that day I stood under the pine tree with Brandon, I can’t stop thinking about trees. It seems like they’re always something that has been a part of me. Always the strongest thing in nature that I have connected with.

When I sit in my apartment trying to brainstorm and come up with ideas for writing, I find myself staring out my patio window, at the massive trees just outside my door and that’s always where I do my best thinking.

So what is it about trees? They’re spiritual and ethereal in a way. A healthy tree will continue to grow throughout its life (just as a healthy human should continue to grow spiritually, mentally and personally throughout their life). Some trees bear fruit. They provide shade and protection. There are countless references to trees in the Bible and across multiple religions. Clearly, the tree resonates with many.

Okay, I’m digressing again. The inspiration for this post came to me when I stumbled on an article on the Mother Nature Network today about the current generation and tree climbing.

It turns out, according to the article, that twenty percent of American children today have never climbed a tree. Twenty percent! I couldn’t believe it.

This news saddened me. It also made about a million questions flash through my mind.

What would my childhood have been like if I’d never climbed a tree? What fond memories would I have to look back upon instead? Would I have as strong of a connection to trees as I do now, or would that connection be to something else?

Of course there is no way for me to know the answers to these questions. All I can do is cling to my amazing memories of awesome tree adventures and mourn for the generation who will miss out on that experience.