Saturday, May 28, 2011

Reach for the sky....wait! Not that high!

For the second time this week I looked up from my garden and spotted my daughter perched high in the branches of a tree. For the second time this week I struggled between worry and pride. On one hand, all my modern parenting instincts scream, “DANGER!” On the other hand, I marvel at her bravery and her wild whims. I have never been the girl who climbs trees. I’ve always been too scared to scale the branches. Or perhaps my mother was too scared to let me scale branches, so I evolved into a creature that lingers among roots, gazing upward. The facts are lost deep in my memory.

Meanwhile, Abby grins and hurls handfuls of leaves down at her brother. I hope my daughter will grown into a young woman who dares to climb. I hope she ascends toward happiness, financial stability, and knowledge. I want her to smile down at the world and breathe the bright breezes. But those are all metaphors.

Climbing a tree is real. Climbing a tree--or rather, falling from one--can break a pre-schooler’s neck. So part of me demands that I summon her back to earth, while the other part argues that tree climbing is the cornerstone of a joyous childhood. My mind cannot convince itself either way. I wander over to the tree. I take my customary spot among the roots, gazing up with a two-part plan in mind: to share this moment with my pixie child and catch her if she falls.

From Birches by Robert Frost
I'd like to get away from earth awhile
And then come back to it and begin over.
May no fate willfully misunderstand me
And half grant what I wish and snatch me away
Not to return. Earth's the right place for love:
I don't know where it's likely to go better.
I'd like to go by climbing a birch tree,
And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk
Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more,
But dipped its top and set me down again.
That would be good both going and coming back.
One could do worse than be a swinger of birches. 

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