Back in the 1970s, when I was a kid, an old vineyard covered most of the slope behind my parents’ house. At the bottom of the slope, near the edge of the woods, there was a medium-sided red maple with big, spreading limbs where I used to climb and sit by the hour, dreaming of the tree house I would build. Sometimes I lay on the ground underneath the tree, gazing up at the imaginary floors of a several-story structure.
The horizontal part of the lowest limb contained a crack parallel to the ground, about an inch wide and 6-8 inches long, and one spring, on an impulse, I hid a couple of quarters in it. I liked the idea of keeping money in a tree, for some reason. I left it there all summer while birds nested and fledged in other trees and foolhardy hornets dangled their paper cities within easy slingshot range. Sometime in late October, after all the leaves had come down and I was no longer tempted to dream of green rooms, I remembered the coins in the crack.
Thirty years on, long after the last of the grapevines were killed by the burgeoning deer herd and the maple tree died and fell over, I find I have two competing memories about this. In one, I retrieved the coins, which had become a little rusty around the rims, and put them with the rest of my allowance money, to be spent probably on Edgar Rice Burroughs books. In the other, equally plausible memory, the quarters were gone — found by a raccoon, perhaps, or by one of my brothers. One way or the other, I’m sure I never climbed that tree again.
Remember to send tree-related blog posts to me (bontasaurus [at] yahoo [dot] com, with “Festival of the Trees” in the subject line) by the end of the month for inclusion in the next Festival of the Trees.