When I first began climbing, I didn’t write about it or take pictures. I climbed simply to climb, to be up there in the tree as a daily practice. It was only after some time that I began to have thoughts about the experience and found that I wanted to write them down. Nor for several weeks did it occur to me to take a photograph in the tree, even though I had a phone in my pocket most days. The following journey through the first year reflects this. In the early months, through summer and into fall, I didn’t record particular climbs; I wrote more generally about my experiences in the tree and the reflections these experiences inspired. Later, in winter and spring, I began to attach these reflections to particular days. Accordingly, the account gathers strength through the seasons and culminates in winter and spring.
Because I wasn’t initially planning on making something of either the writing or the photographs, the latter do not always support the former in the way I would like. Still, they communicate something of the season and the experience of being in the tree. (Except at night; there is no way to capture with a camera the mystery of darkness and scattered moonlight and a billion stars. The marvel of climbing at night is what you can’t see.) Part of the fun of taking pictures in the tree comes from the challenge of finding new images in what is, after all, the same tree, day after day after day. But as Heraclitus said, you can’t step in the same river twice; and no more can the same tree be climbed twice. A tree flows like a river through the hours, the days; and every day and hour offers new light, a new eye, a new tree. (And, when I am lucky, a new me, which is why I keep on climbing.)
And so, in service of sharing the experience of being in a tree each day on a Vermont hillside: herewith the first year. Enjoy!