DAY 268

DAY 268
TREE 194

Today was a good day but not in terms of weather.  Dark, grey, rainy, and cold.  Shortly after getting up I headed to Carden’s new farm to help him get the place ready for living and farming.  His task for us for the day was to secure the floor of the old tobacco stripping barn to make it ready for chickens.  At the last farm Carden had an awful time keeping his chickens alive due to a weasel.  You have to secure the coop like it’s Fort Knox.  So we shoved aluminum siding and chicken wire down in the cracks of the broken cement floor and then put down wood to board it up.  It was a little make-shift but the job had to get done because the chickens had to be moved in the next few days.  On our breaks, walking around the new farm I didn’t see many good trees.  All the ones out in the open fields had been topped and looked pretty bad.  There were some wooded areas in the distance but with the rain coming down I put it off.  It came stopping time and Courtney came by.  They had made plans to go to some friends for dinner and I was invited along.  There is no running water at the new farm so we drove to the old farm so Carden could take a shower.  As he did I climbed a tree I knew would be good from the last time I visited there.  But it was dark and still raining.  I jumped for the first limb and pulled myself up.  It was very slick and wet.  Plus I wore my work boots and they aren’t the best for climbing. 

I went slow and careful.  I had to really test some branches that seemed dead and it’s a good thing I did because one in particular was ready to come right off.  Even with three points of contact, if one fails when it’s this slippery, those other two holds could not be enough. 

I moved up, though, despite the obstacles, and almost to the top.  I tied my ribbon and got out my camera.  But it was so dark that I had to use the flash for all my shots.  You can’t see much but I did get some cool shots of water dripping between branches. 

Then I put it away for the climb down.  That was really nerve racking since I couldn’t see the branches I was putting my feet on.  Were they dead?  I wasn’t sure.  I tried to distribute my weight on the limbs I was sure about.  Thankfully I had no close call and I made it to the ground.  Only problem was that my pants got pretty wet where I had squeezed around a limb.  I was just going to have to let it dry.  It was a decent climb, kind of a desperate, last minute, now or never climb.  Scary dark but successful.  I’m just not sure if I’ll come back here to reclimb it since Carden doesn’t live here anymore.  Oh well.

1-5-09:  This is a picture of a topped tree:

I know you have seen these around places and maybe just didn’t realize why they were like that.  There is a movement in the forestry and arborists’ world to ban this practice.  Apparently it is really bad for the tree, (actually kills it), it’s ugly, and it is ineffective in making the tree smaller or safer, and it doesn’t cost any less to do it.  Spread the word.  It also makes for a tree that doesn’t look very fun to climb.  But I still would try.  

Also, I’ve been told that Carden has not lost any chickens in the new coop.  I guess we did our job.  I can’t believe that was over a year ago.

Let’s see, I am up to Saturday, December 27th 2008.  Rachel said she would take a whole chicken Drew and I bought weeks before and just threw in the freezer with no realistic plans of cooking ourselves and make it for us.  We decided to make an event of it and invited Charlotte, Leigh Ann, Norman, and Amanda and Ty over.  But Amanda and Ty couldn’t make it.  I left the house a little before 4pm that day to head towards Rachel’s parents place to climb a tree at Barret Traditional Middle School before picking her up. 

I parked up the brick road off Grinstead and walked to the front part of the school campus.  I had climbed a tree there months before and drive by there often and I knew there were plenty more trees to be climbed.  I walked slowly looking at my options and eventually decided on a large tree in the middle of the zig-zagging sidewalk that leads to the front steps of the school. 

I walked up the massive trunk with its huge limbs branching off about head level and planned my entry and my path to the top. 

I rotated around the trunk till I got to the branch I planned to use as my entry and grabbed a hold of it with my arms.  I lifted my legs and rotated my body over to the top and pulled myself up to my feet.  I looked right, then to the left and chose my path.  I can only slightly plan my path from the ground.  I have to make the real decisions when I face them.  I began moving around the trunk from limb to limb continuously looking up and choosing which point I was reaching for. 

I reached the point in the tree where I had to chose a limb to follow up to the top.  I really only had one practical option so I continued up with some difficult but practiced moves.  The limbs kept getting gradually smaller and I had to test each step to see if the branches were big enough or alive enough to hold me. 

I reached my limit near the top and got out my camera to take pictures.  I looked straight down and all the branches burst out from the center like a spiky flower. 

Then I looked out to see what I could see of my near and distant surroundings.  Some houses, the road, the school, and the grass, trees, and sidewalk below. 

Maybe a nest of some sort?

The two pictures just above are both the right and left sides below me.  You can see I was dead center in the zig-zagging sidewalk.

As I shot many shots I noticed a man had recently arrived just below me to run the stairs and sidewalk on a circle, over and over. 

The time I needed to pick up Rachel was fast approaching so I decided to start my climb down. 

It went easily and quickly.  Climbs during the day, though rare lately, are often preferred since there is no guessing involved.  Guessing in terms of safe limbs and whatnot.  Anyway, I got to the bottom and jumped and rolled.  I kind of did so to get a reaction from the running man.  I looked up and he didn’t even look in my direction.  I got the feeling he saw me and just avoided eye contact to stay to himself and concentrate on his circles. 

I walked away and shot one last shot before heading back to my truck. 

The chicken Rachel made was incredibly awesome and the company was just as good.  I like to entertain almost as much as tree climbing.  Now if I could just have a tree climbing party with all my friends I’d be in heaven.