Rooms Beyond the Walls

Forests and trees that are special to ENTS members. Place that elicit powerful emotional feelings and fond and deep memories to that person.

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Bosque
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Joined: Mon May 06, 2013 11:59 am

Rooms Beyond the Walls

Post by Bosque » Sat May 11, 2013 2:35 pm

This story began as a timed writing exercise. "Write about a room in the house you lived in when you were five years old," the teacher said. I was soon out of the house and into a tree.

Rooms Beyond the Walls

There were rooms beyond the outside walls of the house; places that were sanctuaries for us in joy or sorrow when we were young, for we were children blessed with parents who allowed us outdoors whenever we wanted to go.
One summer I discovered the elm tree in the backyard. It proved climbable! I felt no pull to go to the top, for the lowest branches were high enough off the ground to feel like another world. For me that summer it became the world’s most glorious reading room. The thick limbs cradled me in their strength. They stretched out before me, beckoning like a comfortable couch. Here I felt so well supported and safe that I could lose my physical self to go into yet another room—the room in the book I was reading. In the cooling shade of my private leaf-walled library, the sunlight that made its way through to my page charmed me with occasional distractions of light and leaf dance, and gave my eyes a rest from reading.
Dad always said he bought the place because of the trees. There were houses much bigger on our road, but Dad told us, “Our yard is big and has the most trees.” He said the word “trees” with sincere warmth and respect. Only in the last few years have I come to realize just how deeply my more and more passionate interest in trees is a gift from my father. It feels like something Dad and I can share, a way that I can express love now that I couldn’t before. For ten years he lived in a nursing home, debilitated from years of drinking. I worried that he would die before I could forgive him. He did. I didn’t understand then that alcoholism is a disease, not a character fault.
I visited him infrequently, and toward the end for short stays only. Once my sister and I drove all the way back from northern Ohio to North Carolina in angry silence. We had argued because I had not wanted to stay more than 20 minutes with Dad on our last visit of the trip.
I would try to think of the good things about Dad. I knew he loved us. When we were children he took time to lie down with us on the front lawn, looking at the clouds or the stars. One night, he said that people who didn’t believe in the possibility of other life out there among all those stars were like people in the time of Columbus not believing in other continents. Dad opened up the world and even the universe for us. He liked to ask us riddles, encouraging us to think of all possibilities. He recited poetry, and he loved to tell us stories.
Though he never mentioned it, I’m convinced that Dad led us to climbing the tall white pine tree in our backyard. The tree stood next to a tool shed stained dark. One summer day he gave each of the three of us a piece of white chalk and encouraged us to jump as high as we could to mark the wall of the shed. With time we could see our progress rise. I think that our father made the propinquity of the shed and the big pine serendipitous for us. Soon my brother made the connection, consciously or not, and became the first to leap and grab the tree’s lowest branch, then climb the “rungs” of the tree like a sticky ladder made of “spokes” that marked each year of the white pine’s growth. I spent happy hours in the top of that tree swaying gently—or not so gently—in the wind, watching birds, spying on neighbors, and listening to far off sounds that were barely audible below, such as the church bells chiming a mile distant in the valley. Sometimes the pine even provided protection and solace when Dad’s drinking threatened to spill out in anger.
Every winter he accompanied us to our favorite place, “the Gully,” a thickly wooded mile-long ravine where children built forts, looked under rocks in the stream for crayfish, and swung on a big grapevine. It felt special to have Dad along. We always went to Picnic Rock.” (Don’t children, and some others lucky in heart and tongue, love to name places in nature important to them?) Our father brushed the snow off the rock and made a cookout of scrambled eggs, first showing us how to find dry firewood with snow all around by looking under the overhanging bank of the creek.
Another winter story about my father came from his own boyhood—about those mornings when he found that the strong winds had blown the night’s powdery snow from the smooth, frozen pond. He would go to the river then, following it on skates into the forest. He could ice skate for miles on the river and its tributary streams through the winter woods.
I’ve read that trees are important along polluted creeks and rivers. Their roots take up the poison and their leaves transpire drops of clean water. I believe in the possibility that the trees are healing my bitterness. I didn’t go to Dad’s funeral. I took the bereavement time from work, but stayed home from Ohio too. I felt guilty and confused. The women I worked with in the library donated a book about the outdoors to our collection, in memory of my father.
I’ve stayed here in the South, and found much to love. But I still want to ice skate through the forest like my father did. In the Deep North of so long ago, did the boy feel benedictions given by the branches overhanging the river? Did the wind sail with him, whispering peace into his ears? Does he hear me blessing him, this boy after my own heart?







Carol Diamond
Last edited by Bosque on Tue Jun 11, 2013 3:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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dbhguru
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Re: Rooms Beyond the Walls

Post by dbhguru » Sun May 12, 2013 1:04 pm

Carol,

You have enriched us all with your wonderful, heart-felt story - a remembrance of your Dad, and the connection between you, him, and the trees. I too had an alcoholic Dad who cared deeply for his family, but who never escaped the grip of alcoholism. I can relate to your story even further. His love of trees was passed on to me. Trees were a topic that he and I could always share and his stories of the American chestnut still come to mind.

We are fortunate to have you join us and speak of the role that trees have played in your life as a child and your connections to them. Please keep the communications coming. Perhaps, your initiative will rekindle special memories in others who will feel free to come forth and share with us. This is what NTS is all about.

Bob
Robert T. Leverett
Co-founder, Native Native Tree Society
Co-founder and President
Friends of Mohawk Trail State Forest
Co-founder, National Cadre

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bbeduhn
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Re: Rooms Beyond the Walls

Post by bbeduhn » Mon May 13, 2013 9:16 am

Bosque,
I had a much different experience growing up but it was geographically similar. I'm from northern Ohio and now I'm also in the Asheville area.
Brian

Bosque
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Joined: Mon May 06, 2013 11:59 am

Re: Rooms Beyond the Walls

Post by Bosque » Sun May 19, 2013 12:14 pm

Bob,

Thank you so much. After seeing your fine writing, not to mention your ability to have such good relationships, I felt very pleased to hear what you had to say. I wrote this and "The Road To Pilot Mountain" more than 10 years ago, probably closer to 20 years, in a beginning creative writing class. The excellent teacher, Irene Blair Honeycutt, is a poet and another tree person. I haven't written anything quite as good since, but appreciation from people like you just might inspire me to try more. Writing, and walking in the woods, are two of my favorite things, but I require prodding to write. Natalie Goldberg, author of Writing Down the Bones, says that if you write regularly your subconscious looks forward to "dates" with you and gives forth. Even if you stand it up sometimes, it will be forgiving when you come back. So, take heart lovers of trees! Tell your stories.

Have you shared your father's chestnut stories, Bob? I for one would love to hear them.

Carol

Bosque
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Joined: Mon May 06, 2013 11:59 am

Re: Rooms Beyond the Walls

Post by Bosque » Sun May 19, 2013 12:31 pm

Brian,

I'm glad you wrote. I think I've noticed our similar geographies in your earlier posts. I grew up a mile out of town from Chagrin Falls. My parents both grew up on Lake Erie, in Ashtabula and Avon Lake. I think I'm quite a bit older than you, so I can remember when the beaches were shut down due to pollution.

I first saw Asheville in junior high on a company trip with Dad. He was a paper salesman. I usually try to mention this fact when I'm making pleas for saving forests, i.e., I know that people have to make a living, but we could be so much wiser about trees. I think that my father would agree.

My sister and I moved to Asheville when we were in our twenties. We loved it. She stayed in the area. I moved to Boone to go to school, and then lived in Charlotte for way too long. Charlotte is a nice city, but the mountains had been calling me ever since I left. I came back in 1998. How about you?

Carol

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bbeduhn
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Re: Rooms Beyond the Walls

Post by bbeduhn » Mon May 20, 2013 8:49 am

Carol,
I grew up in Cleveland Heights in the 1970's and graduated in 1988. I had family in Geauga County, near Chardon and still have some in Ashtabula County and know Chagrin Falls very well. The Metroparks near Chagrin falls are fantastic and helped fuel my interest in trees. My dad often talked about Euclid Beach Park. I useed to get up to Mentor Headlands. I did a footrace in 2007, that started in North Chagrin and ended in Cuyahoga Falls, hitting many of the Metroparks and Cuyahoga Nat'l Park.

I moved to Asheville in 1998, lived in Skyland briefly, then for 9 years north of Black Mountain, then North Asheville, Reems Creek and now Weaverville. I never thought I'd leave the Cleveland area and now I doubt I'll leave the Asheville area.
Brian

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dbhguru
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Re: Rooms Beyond the Walls

Post by dbhguru » Mon May 20, 2013 11:41 am

Carol,

I'll have to dig deep into my memory and see what I can recall from my Dad's accounts of the chestnuts he saw, as well as accounts of others. I can think of no species that so captured the imagination of young and old as did the American chestnut. What a grand tree it must have been.

We all hope you will return to writing and share with your lady and fellow Ents. These accounts so enrich us. They take us into the world of memory and imagination. I get hung up in measuring and forget to enjoy the other dimensions, physical and non-physical, possessed by these grand creations of evolutionary processes, whatever their ultimate source.

Bob
Robert T. Leverett
Co-founder, Native Native Tree Society
Co-founder and President
Friends of Mohawk Trail State Forest
Co-founder, National Cadre

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