DAY 318

DAY 318
TREE 201

Sleeping right next to my parents is always a little strange.  My family has always been quite conservative and closed off.  We don’t see each other naked and don’t share our emotions often.  So to be in the same room when they change for bed, go to the bathroom, kiss goodnight, talk about things-not necessarily private or important but otherwise usually unheard by me-before they go to sleep is weird.  But it’s my family, and no matter what, I’m okay with it.  Mornings are a little more easy to handle.  I just throw the covers over my head and go to sleep till they are ready.  Then I hop up and dress in a flash, which is how it went this morning.  We met Amy, Sean, and Mitchell for breakfast at Bob Evans which was just a short walk from our hotel.  We started our family time.  It was nice to talk and catch up with Amy.  It’s also been really great to be an uncle and watch a baby slowly grow.  It’s the first time I’ve cared about a little human enough to look forward to seeing him and to be surprised at how slowly he grows.  Usually you see someone’s kid, then the next time they are way bigger and you wonder what the hell happened to all that time.

After breakfast we went to Amy’s place and then to Morgantown to watch a WVU women’s basketball game against DePaw or DePaul.  Not sure.  Nothing spectacular but something to do.  Then back to Clarksburg where we stopped at the VA Park so I could climb a tree while everyone else took a walk in the sunshine. 

I chose a beech tree on the edge of a stream.  It was tall, large, and looked like a challenge.  I struggled up the first part of the climb just to get onto the damaged section of the lower trunk. 

My family watched.  Once up, I began to move a little easier and planned my route to the top.  I looked at my family and asked if they planned on watching the whole time.  They took that as a hint and began to walk away down the path.  But before they did, and old white-haired man told them what I was doing could get me killed.  I told him I knew what I was doing.  He seemed uneasy.  My family walked away and I moved out into a limb over the walking path. 

This old man watched and reiterated his warning.  I told him I was aware but that I was fine.  Then he began to ask questions.  Am I smart?  Am I fit? etc.  He then started to push the idea of the Marines on me… hard.  He said I could climb trees for a living.  I told him I work for a tree service.  He told me I could travel the world, jump out of helicopters, be a sniper.  I asked him, "What if I don’t want to shoot guns?"  That got him. 

Oh, and he was racist.  He said, "well, I can see you’re not black, so you’re not related to the monkey.  Why the hell are you up there?"  I could have told him it was for art, but instead I just told him I enjoyed it.  I was half amused by this interaction and half annoyed and ready for him to go away so I could get on with my climb.  He did stop talking to me but he didn’t go away.  So I only got slightly higher, tied a pink ribbon, and took some pictures. 

Then I climbed back down. 

My family was no where in sight so I went looking for another tree to climb since there were so many around.  Down by the bend in the stream was a huge old sycamore.  The top of the trunk had rotted off and left behind a large, hollow, brown top.  The bottom of the trunk was alive andwell and leaning far over the water. 

I tried running up the trunk but there were no limbs to grab.  So I went from the side.  I worked my way over to the largest limb that grew way over the water. 

It was beautiful in color.  I took pictures of the tree and the water.  Then I focused on the dead, hollow shell. 

There were many good holes for animals but no animals present. 

I climbed up higher to the next large limb and took some more shots. 

This really was an amazing tree.  Then on my way down, once I saw my family was ready to go, I got my sister and nephew to come over so I could take their picture from above. 

I jumped down and felt good.  So appreciative of life, trees, and family visits.  As I get older these visits become something more, something special.  Probably because I don’t see them everyday like I did when I was little.  Strange how climbing a tree everyday had helped me to find value in so many unrelated (and related) things.  I wonder if after this project is over, a tree climb will become something even more special and appreciated than it is now?

2-25-09:  I saw my nephew around new years and I asked my sister when we would see each other again.  She said probably not till July unless I come to visit.  That seemed like a long time to me so I just might do that.  I like to see the little guy.  And soon, he will have a little sister come this summer.  I’m excited about that too.  Being an uncle is pretty great. 

So Valentine’s Day a week and a half ago, I went out with my brother and some of his friends to a place called Fat Cat near his apartment.  It’s a huge space with ping pong tables, pool tables, shuffle tables, and lots of board games with live music and decent bar.  We played ping pong for a while then moved the party to the German restaurant on the first floor of my brother’s apartment building.  There we drank beers, ate sausage and eventually my friend Garret showed up.  He bought a Rubik’s Cube with him and wowed us repeatedly with his ability to quickly solve it.  Then he talked me into going all the way to Brooklyn to go to the Alligator Lounge where you buy a beer and get a free small pizza.  Details are fuzzy but we were definitely out very late. 

The next morning I didn’t feel too hot and my brother and I stayed in the apartment and watched 3 movies.  Night came and we were getting hungry and I needed to climb a tree.  But I didn’t want to go too far so I just walked to the pier and went north rather than going south like I had before.  I soon found a decent sized tree compared to all the small ones that litter the water’s edge. 

It was late and cold and there were very few people out walking so I felt pretty good about not being seen.  I shimmied up the trunk

and then climbed up the branches to the top. 

I went very carefully as there were many dead twigs and I didn’t feel like breaking them all.  At the top I took shots if Hoboken,

my view south down the piers towards downtown,

the busy road near me

and the buildings beyond. 

Some walkers did pass me by on the board walk but none seemed to see me. 

When I was done shooting I put my camera away and carefully made my way back down to the trunk then slid to the ground.  The climb really cleared my head and made me feel a whole lot better. 

And so did dinner.  Scott and I went to a nice little Italian place and I had a nice big plate of gnocchi in tomato sauce.  New York has so many good places to eat.