Swinging the side door open and jumping the stoop steps, I run straight for the great, gray Beech tree. Leathery brown Beech leaves, vibrant yellow and orange Poplar leaves, golden bronze Hickory leaves, and a host of other autumn beauties decorate the ground underneath the tree. All these delights are only harbingers for the peak of fall glory to come. My bare feet crunch on the golden palace floor. I breathe in the air and it smells like…well…it smells like what it is- leaves! – earthy, beautiful, sun-baked smell of leaves. Looking straight up into the Beech, the leaves are still a bright green and the trunk seems to go on for eternity, losing itself in the green canopy above.
Finally I grasp the smooth bark and start my upward climb. At first it’s difficult to even begin for the branches are narrow and far apart, but finally my hand grips a sturdy limb and I pull myself up onto it. Climbing this mammoth requires the full use of my body. My hands grip branches, my arms hug anything they find, my feet and toes cling to every limb, my legs wrap about the trunk, my chest and stomach push me up, and my neck and head wrap around boughs. At some points I practically have to shinny to the next branch, but finally I reach my destination. I heave a great sigh, feeling invigorated and refreshed.
Here in the topmost branches the wind gently sways the tree to and fro. Right below the trampoline sits, appearing smaller than it is in reality. The swing set and concrete blocks seem that way too. The sky-scraping Hickory laughs at me and my Beech tree for thinking we’re anywhere near high. On the other side of our house I can see the Sweet Gum peeking over the roof. Way beyond this the woods stretch on. I can see the Liberty water tower from my perch and a tree separates the tower from a clump of buildings nearby. A Pine forest stretches itself out in a dark green blanket. Hills rise and fall. A clay dirt road goes up an incline and ends at what looks like to be a house surrounded by a few sheds, a green-roofed barn and farm buildings. Way off in the distance two cellphone-towers reach for the ever-moving clouds. Most of the trees are still green but a blend of purples, oranges, golden, and reds put a twist on the late-summer, early-autumn morning. Way up here the sun has finally reached these trees and turned the higher leaves a leathery dark green. I press myself tightly against the cold, smooth friend and soak in the warm sun. Sounds float up to my ears: a dog barking in the distance, a lawnmower puttering along, the nearby humming of a bee, a hawk screaming in the sky, the drone of a jet, the continual croaking of crickets. The breeze frolics about with my hair and blows gently on my face. Everything begs me to stay awhile, but I reluctantly turn down the offer as time tells me I should get down and so I make my downward journey. I stretch my foot and toes to reach the branch below. Locking my hands around a brawny limb, I let my body swing to the limb beneath. Finally I tumble from the last branch and trot back to the house. My arms, hands, and legs are scratched up, and I feel exhilarated and my lungs are filled with the fresh air of the great outdoors.
*All photo credit goes to Elisabeth