I borrowed this post idea from The Pursuit of Harpyness about “Childhood Shenanigans”- I enjoyed the posters stories of getting dirty in the mud of their backyards, climbing the walls of their houses, etc. I immediately started remembering my own childhood shenanigans, growing up in Claremore, Oklahoma.
My favorite childhood memories are generally not ones of making trouble- I was generally a pretty good kid- but of fantasy and imagination. And usually involved climbing trees.
For example, from the time I was 6 till about age 9, we lived ‘in town’ in a house on a cul-de-sac. It had the most magnificent climbing tree in the front yard- a smooth-barked, TALL oak tree. I would jump up and swing my lithe legs over the branch that was just out of reach of my sister, and twist up and into a sitting position. Standing confidently, I would hike up into the branches, until I found my sitting place well above the roofline of my neighborhood.
I would look south to the base-ball fields, listening to the crack of the bat in the summer evenings. Gazing north to the Will Rogers Memorial on the hill, I’d imagine that I could fly ‘up the hill’ and land on big bronze statue of Will Rogers doffing his cowboy hat, grinning in amazement at the Wonderous Flying Vicki.
I dreamed of building a treehouse in the branches of my climbing tree. Not just any treehouse, but a mansion. I dreamed of a tree house with different platforms- like floors of a house, hammocks and drawbridges for me and my neighborhood friends. A combination of Swiss Family Robinson and Cinderella’ castle.
When we moved out to the country the year I turned 10, I tried to find another climbing tree at our new house as wonderful at my oak tree. But the trees in the south yard were too scratchy; the trees in the front yard were too narrow and the pecan trees in the back yard didn’t have branches low enough to get started.
But, down in the bottom of the yard, near the chainlink fence, was an apple tree. I ignored it for a few years, until I had fully explored all the other trees. But when I found it, it became my new outdoor house. It wasn’t a castle this time, but a squat, cozy cottage. Climbing to the top was risky business, as the branches were spindly, capable of holding apples, but not a medium-sized girl. I found a seat in the heart of the tree, rigged my ropes and hauled books, blankets & snacks up to the sun-dappled leafy fortress where I wedged myself.
I spent many idyllic summer afternoons in that tree: watching the apples grow; listening to the cows low in the neighboring field and reading. My favorite books at the time were the Redwall novels, books in which animals lived in abbeys, stone fortresses, and houses. I devoured these books, halfway up an apple tree, ignoring the birds that came to peer at me.
What are your favorite memories?