April 17, 2024
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April 17, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

The tree in front of our house was my refuge, my means of escape from Bobby, the bully. I could jump to its lowest branch and then swing my leg over it to begin my ascent. He was at a loss for that climbing maneuver, which was beyond his ability because he was overweight. I could have looked down at him and called him some “endearing” names but I didn’t. I was too smart for that, even at my young age of 9.

Our tree became special for me, and my appreciation for all trees began there. I loved the strength of their limbs that gave a little with your weight on them, and if you climbed closer to the trunk they could hold enormous weight. It was easy to grab onto branches and scale the entire tree, and I would climb way up or until the branches became too thin. Being up in that tree and looking down at everything gave me a feeling of elation and excitement that every young boy seeks. The feeling is probably comparable to that of a mountain climber, but much more secure because of those branches reaching out to hold you like a friend. There was always a branch to sit on, and have one at your back to lean against while you were in that new dimension.

It was a place so remote from the usual that no one would even think of looking up to find you there. I remember closing my eyes and feeling the slight movement of the tree and hearing the rustling of the leaves while the warmth of the sun was on my face. I was at peace with the world, thinking how a bird might feel perched there on a branch, when suddenly I was startled by a pleading scream. “Get out of that tree before you fall!” It was my Mom, only she said it in Yiddish while wringing her hands as a reaction to her fear.

When she saw the agility I displayed as I exited that tree, her expression changed, and I even detected a faint smile when I kissed her on the cheek as I passed by.

And now…I kiss the memory of it all.

By David S. Weinstein

 

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