By Robert W. Greene

A mock-Gothic sketch of towering willows can turn arching boughs into flying buttresses. But some trees (maples, beeches, elms, oaks), stout of limb and fringe, are harder to transmute than weeping willows.

I used to rise to the challenge, climb, hand over hand, foot over foot, almost to the dome, crawl to the outer edge, pause, hang-slide down the spreading cone, drop to the ground, race for the trunk, then up again.

For a time at nine or ten, this was my favorite game, in a woods as far from my house as I dared venture, a giant step up from swinging down with the birches on my run to school the year before.

Then it was over. I was back with my chums. Now after school we played tag-rush or fumble.

Between my first two decades, I'd look up daily for Aunt Betty, who had dragged me to High Mass until she died. Scouting the way to heaven, I'd still make it home for supper.


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