The Tree that I Can’t See | The Lamp Post | Spring 2020
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The Tree that I Can’t See

By: Duncan Small

A tree, taller and mightier than any other in the small but great forest. As I climb up this wooden giant, I listen to the sound of tires against the pavement and planes warming up their engines. Suddenly I hear my name being called from far away. I look down, feeling like I’m on top of the world, and see my mom standing there telling me it’s time to go. My grandparents have lived in the same house for most of the childhood I can remember, right off a busy road and next to the local airport. In between the road and the airport is a small forest, if not a patch of trees. Among these small trees there was a pine, bigger and more prominent then the rest. As a child I was in awe of this skyscraper of a tree and any chance I could get I would be in that tree. In the years to follow I still loved that tree, but it seemed to get smaller as I got bigger, and as I moved on to more extreme adventures, the tree seemed like less of a thrill. Now I’m in college and the tree has been chopped down. I like to think that the tree is a metaphor for the older I got and the more I grew, the smaller the tree got, and now that I’ve moved on to a new chapter in my life the tree has too.

When I was 8 years old my grandparents moved down to Tennessee from New York and they moved into a house right by the airport and about 2 minutes down the road from my house. Just about every day I would go down to their house with my mom we would play cards, crack jokes, eat candy, and my favorite part, explore the woods. For the most part the woods just consisted of small pines and lots of shrubs, but in the middle, there was one tree to rule them all. This pine was bigger around than I was tall and it was the best part of my day getting to climb that tree. I would bring all my friends over to show them this incredible tree and we would climb to the top and watch the planes fly off into the sky. At the end we would always have snacks and drinks to sit around and enjoy after a long day of climbing. For the longest time I didn’t get bored of the tree. Even though it was the same old thing I still couldn’t fathom a tree so large.

As I grew older, taller, and a little larger, I climbed the tree less, for it just didn’t seem as big anymore and to me, it had lost that spark of being so magnificent. I would still go out and climb up into it every once in a while, to watch the planes and think about the good old days, but for the most part I had gone on to bigger and better things. By the time I had turned 16 I had gone scuba diving in Florida, backpacking across New Mexico, and dog sledding in Minnesota, so the tree looked like just a tree to me. November of 2018 is the last time I went to that tree just because I hadn’t in so long and I had so many memories there. I didn’t realize that it was going to be my last time in that tree and now I regret not appreciating it more.

I’m now 18 years old and living in a dorm. Sometimes I reminisce about that tree and I think about the friends I’ve bonded with there and the memories I’ve made there. I think about when my friend broke his arm falling out of that tree and our parents told us not to climb it, I think about climbing up there to watch the sunset, and I think about the peace I felt up in that tree without any worries in the world. Sadly, over this summer the tree was cut down because a new road is being built in its place. To me that tree was a big part of my childhood, and throughout the stages of my life it was there when I needed it. I have moved on to college and the tree has moved on to mulch. When I needed it most it was there for me, and that tree was my childhood. I can’t imagine what my life would’ve been like if it weren’t for that tree even though there were others like it, even some in my backyard. For some reason that tree just had a spark to it that no others could compare to.

“In three words I can sum up everything I have learned about life: it goes on.” This quote from Robert Frost explains simply yet well my relationship to the tree. As I grew older, wiser, and taller, I started to forget about the tree and my life went on. The tree got older and slowly started dying, and eventually was chopped down, but I grew and my life went on. I have had some incredible adventures in my life, some dangerous, and some just fun, but if it weren’t for that tree, I don’t think I would’ve ever gotten out of my box and become the person I am today.

Spring 2020 Issue