The Lower Branches
Overnight I have decided on a compromise. I cannot justify climbing to the top of the tree, but I refuse to not be among the branches! For a time I will have to content myself with hoisting myself one-armed into the lower branches of the tree. There is less risk to my right arm, and if I slip and fall the tree house is not too far below me. These are larger branches than those higher up, and closer together, and form a more easily navigable structure.
On go coat, ski pants, gloves, boots, and out go I, into a gray morning. Everything is covered with several inches of sticky snow. The tree is frosted. I pull myself from the wall of the tree house into the branches, and go a few branches higher. Here I can turn around, face the field, and sit on one snowy branch with my back against another, my feet resting comfortably on a third below. There is a fourth right in front of me, on which to rest my arms. It is in fact a lovely spot. The snowfall of the day before has crusted the branches with snow and ice, and even the smallest twigs bear heavy loads. There are patches of blue sky that leaven the day with color. The world is white, dark gray, and blue. I have the camera with me, and it is a pleasant change to take photographs from a seated position, and at my leisure, albeit with my left hand, which is awkward. I sit there comfortably for some time.
I will admit that once or twice I gaze longingly upwards at the prayer flags twenty feet above me! But I am also deeply grateful just to be in the tree. In fact, my appreciation of it is even sharper now that I have been confronted with the possibility of not being able to climb at all.
And it is good–if not always fun!–to be reminded that we have to live in a state of permanent flexibility and adaptation; that, as the Taoists point out, the unyielding oak tree snaps in the storm-wind before which the slender reed bows and springs erect again.
This is a part of the tree I have rarely spent time in before. There is a whole new branchscape here to explore with the camera. And a new season to explore it in.
I sit and watch the way the light gleams through crusted ice.