Monday, November 12, 2012
If I free associate "willow tree" to family members, we all visualize the same enormous tree in our southern Californian backyard. I am not sure what inspired my father to build a grand treehouse in the crook of it, but it became the background for creative play and my first unsupervised rope adventure.
I should interject a statement that said reflections are from my point of view. All of my family members bring different perspectives to this memory.
I let my older brother talk me into roping a zip line between the willow tree and the nearby elm. I was easily convinced it was a good idea. Ziplines were slick. While visiting my grandparents in a Boston neighborhood, my brothers and I befriended some kids who had built one; we had spent an afternoon in bliss.
I have often wonder how we found all the required elements to make it work. Maybe my older brother is the genius he claims, or the mischievous shadow of Peter Pan directed us? We were magically shielded from parental observation. Rummaging around for the ropes, carabiners, pulleys, gloves, and then setting up the ropes could not have been a quiet affair. My brothers and I went unnoticed for hours.
We sat on the edge of the treehouse. The wispy lines of hanging willow limbs encased us in a private bubble. The zipline path stretched tightly before us, the pulley attached with my fathers old climbing biner. The rope sloped 25 feet off the ground to about 5 feet, ending at the trunk of the elm. The gloves were meant for braking.
We nervously looked at each other, and then launched into the 'you first' debate that only happens in childhood. I routinely took my turns at being the guinea pig, but I opted out this time. I remember feeling relieved when my younger brother stuck his 6 year old hands in my fathers gloves and grabbed the biners he was to hang from. (My Mom always interrupts the story at this point to ask "What were you thinking?", and add, "you tortured your brother."). With trepidation, he launched himself onto the line and instantly was swept into motion, zooming! for about 5 feet. His hands then slipped out of the enormous gloves and my brave, brave brother plummeted to the ground.
The screen door clattered as my mother came running to the wails that resounded from my brothers mouth. My mom is a brilliant first responder. Cooly, she scooped up my brother and within minutes was driving to the ER.
A broken arm. Grounded from trees. Within days we were trying to attach a zipline from the treehouse to the slide in the pool. We couldn't figure out how to navigate it over the fence.