Black cherry is what it is called by the app on my phone that identifies most trees accurately. To me, it just looks lonesome for want of children to swing from its branches.
A pair of decades have unwound the calendar since two young lasses delighted in swinging from a rope-hung swing tied to a branch that has since fallen off.
“Do it again,” one of the lasses cried out.
“Higher,” her friend yelled out in her turn.
Their favorite part was an adult pushing them high enough to grab leaves from the branch hanging over the swing’s forward zenith.
They were four or five at the time, and would pester the granddad to push their swing whenever they heard the mournful cry of the childless tree in the backyard. Which was whenever the tree detected the presence of youngsters paying it no mind.
The two have gone to other experiences and no longer need an adult to push the swing they also do not need. The tree stands alone at the edge of the property. Robins, doves and nuthatches still attend to the branches that remain, but the limb has fallen that once strained with joy to maintain the prescribed swing-arc.
In my youth, trees were mostly for climbing, though swings of my peers often could be found suspended from conveniently shaped apple and maple limbs.
Climbing trees was one of my favorite pastimes. A huge sugar maple stood next to a long-needled pine outside our kitchen door. The pine provided a ladder by which I could work my way to the place on the maple – a giant fork where the single trunk became two – where I could switch trees to continue the ascent.
There is something special about getting w-a-a-y up there where adults are too scared, or sensible, to go. Nearer the clouds, where one is looking down on sparrows, Red-winged Blackbirds and, if one is lucky enough to have a tree lean out over the water, Chain Pickerel and Yellow Perch as they swim ’round, inhaling bugs and smaller fish.
Trees perform many necessities of life on this soil-covered rock as it, and we, hurtle through the cosmos. It cleans the air and blocks sediment from washing into creeks and rivers. They frame our homes and, when conditions are right, add moisture to the clouds until it becomes heavy enough to rain. They sequester carbon, taking it into their cells, waylaying it from adding to the blanket we are building to stifle ourselves.
Until we cut them all down to make room for the houses and driveways and roads between them.
But mostly, they hold swings and youngsters climbing to the stars.
Several years after I left the maple-and-pine combo, the U.S. Navy moved us – mom, dad and two new tree climbers – to a land of townhouses and ten-foot-tall “trees.” One day, a neighbor called the police on our growing climbers.
“Those kids will get hurt if they fall,” the neighbor declared.
It would be good, then, if they don’t fall, I replied. But if they do, history documents kids under about 12 generally bounce rather than break. And next time, they will grab stronger branches.
They did, and a new generation of climbers came along.
I have a picture of a map of a proposed residential development, with the streets named for the trees cut down to make room for the streets and houses. We could get some new generations of trees to grow up quickly, but nature does not respond well to rush orders. And we are cutting them down much faster than new ones can grow.
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