After traveling home with me in a backpack more than 30 years ago, this pine tree stands tall and proud still.

A tree grows in Franklin County

Do you have any special trees in your life? I’ve had several.

One notable among them is the magnolia tree that once proudly grew in our side yard. It was my first climbing tree, and it made my parents a bit nervous.

My dad said magnolia limbs weren’t especially strong, but I had such fun climbing that tree. My parents just said to be really careful, and I was. I think it was even Dad’s idea to climb it, and I spent a lot of happy times doing just that.

In addition to climbing the tree and hanging out on special limbs, I enjoyed the shade it provided, giving me a nice play area underneath its branches. It broke my heart years later when an issue came up that meant it had to be cut down.

Another tree from my childhood, on the other hand, is still standing. In spring 1990 – it’s difficult to wrap my head around the fact it’s now been around 33 years ago – I was in Mrs. Gibson’s fourth-grade class at College Avenue Elementary and wound up coming home with a small tree in my backpack. It was Arbor Day, I think, and I remember everyone getting a tree.

I went and visited that tree just this morning. It is still standing proud and tall, greeting me, brilliantly lit in the morning sun, having surpassed my height long ago.
At some point after my magnolia tree had to be cut – and I figure this was probably Dad’s idea, too – I started climbing the big maple tree in our front yard. It was much taller than the magnolia – but Dad was less worried, in some ways, because he said the branches were a lot stronger.

I had to really want to climb the maple, though, as it was a much more difficult tree to get into. I had to hold onto one branch with both hands and swing myself over, throwing my legs over another branch, in order to “hurl” myself up into the “first level.”

I often climbed all the way to the top, frequently spending a spell there. I had fun one day calling out a greeting to our neighbor, Patricia Cox, who had no idea I was in the tree.

Later I tried to create a pulley to bring things up into the tree, but that met with only limited success, as there wasn’t really a big enough clear path among the branches, and I didn’t have the gear mechanism needed to create a proper pulley – but it was fun to try. I’m pretty sure I got the idea from watching “Mr. Wizard’s World.”

I’m not sure when the last time I climbed the tree was – and in retrospect, it feels a bit weird to realize I climbed it one day like any other time, with no idea I never would again.

I would have been a teenager, though. What I do remember is one day when I was 19 and brought my friend Dawn home from college with me; I showed her the tree, and she agreed it looked like great fun. We decided to climb it, and I explained the method for gaining access, but I sadly found I could no longer manage to perform the acrobatics necessary.

She managed it, though, and while I’m glad she got to visit my tree, I was decidedly bitter that I couldn’t visit my old friend once more – at least not in the same way.

I still get to enjoy the beautiful fall display our maple provides each year, always taking a little longer to turn than our neighbor’s vibrant maple.

What are your special tree memories? Trees provide so much for us, not only in helping the environment by mitigating the effects of too much carbon dioxide and providing shade and decoration but also by providing products like paper. They have inherent value, too, just from being.

Have you visited a tree lately? Maybe it’s time.

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