Monday, June 29, 2015

Climbing trees.

I had watched my brother from afar, clambering up the tree.

However hard I tried, I was simply not big enough to reach...

to reach up far enough, to pull myself be big.

I rather had the impression that I was fated always to look on from below and admire.

Growing up is never fast enough when you are five years old and tree-challenged.

My brother took pity on me, or got bored with tree climbing and gave me a foot up.

That first foot up was all that it took to get me upwardly mobile and free.

Once the hidden hold had been pointed out, there was no stopping me.

The tree became my escape, my playground, my kingdom, my best friend.

Every day, on getting up and finishing breakfast, I would head out and up towards a future adventure.

The tree was an adaptable play partner.

I was a pirate in the rigging, Tarzan, lord of the jungle, a secret agent, a mountaineer...

On Sundays, I would hide and scare the ladies dressed up to the nines for the communion service.

On other days, I would practice walking out as far as I could on the higher branches to see how far they would bend down so that I could jump to the ground and scare my mother.

On one special day, I found that I could climb over a wall into a secret hiding place, protected by dense undergrowth and dangerous nettles and brambles. This would become my headquarters for planning operations.

It may not have spoken much, but I didn't let its mutism prevent me speaking for it as I included it in daily conversation.

I confided to the tree that it was a very special friend.

It was a good listener.

That tree lived on in my memory long after I had grown up and moved on.

Forty years later, I took my kids to see the house where it had been.

I was desperate to show them that tree.

We arrived, it had gone.

They probably wouldn't have understood its importance anyway.

In 2014, I shared my tree in a blog post entitled Suspend Disbelief...

It stood for a sunlit childhood past, just before the darkness of a Dickensian funeral.

If it is coming alive again on this page today it is because of an unlikely impromptu connection.

Please listen to Kevin @dogtrax Hodgson's tree story for #adhocvoices for #clmooc.

I too had imaginary friends...

A child sighs...

As Kevin says, we need those trees to step up and get a wider view of things.

We need our personal vantage points, our refuges from the mass of traffic.

We need time to dream, to tinker, to establish relationships with objects, trees, and people.

I remember my first collaboration with Kevin.

It happened maybe two or three weeks after he asked others to remix one of his poems.

It became Steel my poem.

We can never be late to create.

#CLMOOC may be organised around weekly outputs of prompts.

Don't rush yourselves to keep up with the flood of posts.

We need to take our time.

Don't ever forget to ask for a foot up.

As Kevin says on his blog:


Yes my friends we must live it or not at all.

After my first meeting with Kevin in January 2014 we have intermittently and consistently worked together, moving along the criss-crossing branches of our respective trees.

I realise now that these tree-root systems interconnect even across oceans.

Perhaps my tree really was a pirate ship?

@dogtrax Here is another offshoot to add to your  "Tracking the flow of an impromptu make".

Try listening to the growing number of sounds here, add yours, you never know who you may touch.

Maybe one of these sounds will have resonance for you, for others?

Maybe you will trigger reflection, a story, a picture, a collaboration?

Who knows where I, you, we will venture?

Who knows?


  1. I'd be afraid to go back to my old trees of youth, for fear they (like yours) would be gone or maybe not as a tall as I remember. The only tree I wonder about is the only tree I ever carved something into ... I hope by now the tree has shaped its way over the wounds I put into it ... a carving of a saxophone that later became the inspiration for one of the first songs I ever wrote -- Mark on Time.

    1. Scary but I found an old recording of that song I referred to ... not me singing ... I had a friend sing it ... and drums is another friend ... everything else was me .... I was about 17 years old ...

    2. What we keep is revealing :-)