The big old maple tree, showing its proximity to the old Mabey Homestead.
Remembering the Big Old Maple Tree
By Richard Mabey Jr.
One of my most cherished memories of my childhood is the memory of the big old maple tree in my backyard of my home in Lincoln Park. The old maple tree was a grand and glorious tree. Including the attic, my old homestead was three stories high and the old maple tree majestically stood much taller than my old home. It was an incredible tree. My grandfather, who also loved knew and loved this tree, said it was just as big and tall as it was when he was young. It was a most remarkable tree.
The old majestic maple tree in winter. Note the old barn in the background.
I probably climbed the dear old maple tree, a few hundred times. It was just a wonderful place for a kid to be. There is something very special about seeing the earth from high above. Sometimes I would climb up high on the dear old maple, to the point where the limbs were so thin that I could climb no higher. From that height I could see quite far in the distance.
The dear old maple tree had quite a few strong, thick branches that were just made for high tree climbing.
The trick to successful tree climbing is that as you climb upward, it is important to test each limb that you grab hold of. Never trust a tree branch just because it looks strong. There could be a crack in the branch or it may be weakened where it meets the main trunk of the tree. So, it’s very important to grasp the tree limb and give it a little pull to see if it will hold you up. If you feel a weakness in the branch, immediately look for another branch to pull up on. Also, listen carefully for any cracking sounds as you pull on the tree limb you are clasping. Any crackling sounds, any at all, are true blue danger signs. Avoid using that limb at all costs!
My old maple tree was filled with strong tree limbs. When I was a boy, the old tree just called for me to climb it to nearly the tippy top!
There was such a feeling of exhilaration upon nearly reaching the top of a big, tall tree. It was nearly impossible to reach the highest branch of a tree. The highest branches were too weak and too springy to hold even the weight of a 10 year old boy. But to see that view, to overlook neighbors’ yards, to see far down a ribbon of road, simply put, there are no words to describe that joyous feeling of personal accomplishment.
The old maple tree as seen from the perspective of the tulip garden.
Sadly, I think that fine art of graceful tree climbing may well be a thing of the past. I don’t know if kids still climb a tree, high in the sky. I just don’t know. When driving around, it’s hard to find even one backyard tree fort along the streets and lanes of small town America. Today, by the time a kid is in seventh grade, their worrying about taking their college entrance exams. It’s just a different world now, from the way it was in the Summer of 1964, back when I was 10. It’s just a different world today. Good, bad, indifferent; it’s just a different world today.