When I was a boy I often used to relieve myself from the boredom of helping my Dad on his allotment (I am glad to say gardening has since been included in my list of interests, but back then I found it tiresome), by climbing into a rather squat beech tree by the alloment perimeter fence. There was a hollow at the point where the branches started to divert from the main trunk into which I squeeze myself and watch the world go by, hidden by foliage.
I've just read, admittedly in the Daily Mail, that Bristol City Council has placed a ban on children climbing trees in the city's parks and gardens. My response to that? Oh poo!!
I could go on for ages about how tree climbing, though admittedly dangerous to an extent, is great for kids for a whole range of reasons. It is good for health and building strength, it is good for teaching oneself about problem solving and the importance of observation, planning and preparation. And so on.
However, more importantly in some ways I feel is that tree-climbing is an endemic and important part of our human tradition and almost a 'rite of passage' for boys in particular. And where best to observe this than in literature?
J. M. Barrie was inspired to write Peter Pan by his memories of encounters with the Llewellyn-Davies boys in Kensington Gardens.
The American preservationist and naturalist John Muir writes of climbing a 100 foot Douglas Spruce following a storm in California and gazing out over the forest "kindled into one continuous blaze of white
Rupert Brooke went tree-climbing with the Olivier girls and together they mused on how growing up into middle age must surely be an appalling tragedy. "Is there a greater tragedy than for a boy
to die, except for him to grow old, to live!" Brooke wrote in a letter to a friend.
could do worse than be a swinger of birches" wrote the poet Robert Frost.
According to Robert McFarlane, writing in The Guardian, these works are now little-read, which in my opinion is, in itself, a great tragedy.
Along with the day when the powers-that-be finally, successfully, manage to stop children climbing trees, something that I hope, and expect, fortunately, will never happen.
- Robin Whitlock
- Weston Super Mare, Somerset, United Kingdom
- Hello and welcome to my blog. My name is Robin Whitlock. I am a freelance journalist with a special interest in environmental issues and renewable energy. I have numerous published articles to my credit and write regularly for a number of renewable energy websites. I am also a writer for Renewable Energy Magazine and a sub-editor for Renewable Energy Focus. I am currently based in Bristol, UK. Besides renewable energy and green issues I have a wide variety of other interests which includes World War 2, mythology and folklore, gardening, railways and lots more besides. You can also reach me on either of my two email addresses, which are: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com Thanks!
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