Volume 4
An Online Literary Magazine
October 30, 2010

 

Tree

Fiction

Anjie Seewer Reynolds

 


"From the vantage point of the tree, you can see further than you could on the ground."

W
hen you get the perfect perch in a tree, youíre cradled.

 

You straddle a thick branch while the coarseness of the bark works like Velcro or the sticky back side of a postage stamp.

 

There, you can lean back against the upstretched limb behind you, or you can lean forward to the branch reaching sideways in front of you. If youíve got your notebook, you can rest it on that side-reaching limb: natureís desk.

 

From the vantage point of the tree, you can see farther than you could on the ground.

 

But if youíre thirty-seven, youíre not really that high up.

 

As a kid in the Pacific Northwest, you used to climb the Douglas firs, tree sap snarling your brown braids and staining your jeans.

 

But this treeís different.

 

Itís not a fir; itís a gangly pine in northern California on the Pacific Ocean. Youíre about six feet off the ground and you havenít reached the needles yet. The thoughtís occurred to you to go higher, to let the needles catch in your hair. To grab a pinecone, toss it across the lawn, let the cone sap gum up your fingers.

 

But youíre different.

 

Itís been twenty-five years since you were that serious tree climber along Pipeline Road, higher than the power lines. Recovering from a bone break now doesnít sound so exciting Ė it wouldnít be such fun to see what your friends would write on your cast; you donít want to figure out how to manage life with two kids, a job, and a third floor apartment.

 

So youíve met this tree, this old friend, halfway.

 

Youíve climbed up her trunk, found one of her low-reaching and welcoming branches and hoped to have another twenty-five years at this level.

 

You try not to think of brown braids gone gray and coiled atop your head. You try not to think of yourself in the slow rocker your grandkids might drag out to the base of the tree, so you can watch them climbing above you to the tippy top.

 

Instead, you close your pen cap and shut your notebook, dropping them to the grass with a ting and a thud, and rest your elbows on natureís desk to simply take in the crash of the waves and the squawks of the fish-greedy gulls.

 

To watch from above is what the tree offered from the very start, after all.

 

 

Anjie Seewer Reynolds' work has been published in The Christian Science Monitor, The Sun, Underwired, Chronogram, and Drunken Boat. Her essays have also aired on KQED, San Francisco's NPR affiliate. She earned an MA in literature from Western Washington University and lives in Ashland, Oregon, where she teaches courses at ScienceWorks Hands-On Museum.

 

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