To boldly crawl…


Last week I posted a few photos that I took at an area I call “the duck pond”. As I was looking through the photos, I noticed that the fallen tree across the pond had what appeared to be bits of red on the crown. It was some distance away from me so I had not noticed it when shooting. Even in the photograph, I could not tell if these were leaves that had not fallen off the branches or if the tree, though uprooted, was budding.

On Friday, in what may rank as one of the most stupid things I’ve done this year, I decided to find out. As I approached the duck pond, I wandered off the trail and towards the area of the bank where the tree’s root end was. The opposite side of the pond is a difficult to traverse thicket and I was not certain that I could reach the bank. As I approached the tree, I still could not tell exactly what was hanging from the limbs. I was awed by the size of the upended root; it was about 9 feet tall. I’m not sure what inspired — or perhaps possessed — me, but I decided to see if I could climb on to the tree. I put down my pack and placed my camera on the tree trunk. Then, using moves that might have made a final cut in an America’s Funniest Dance Videos competition, I tried to shimmy up the trunk and on to the tree.

I must pause here to give you a bit of backstory. When I was a child, frequently we would play in the woods and along the creeks in our neighborhood. I was always afraid to climb on to any log and I was never able to climb a tree. A combination of fear of heights — which is really a fear of falling — and an almost complete lack of any sort of athletic coordination skills taught me at an early age that I should not even bother to attempt such a feat. Being teased for my unwillingness was always the better option.  Nothing in the ensuing decades should have convinced me that I could now do such a thing.

Yet, somehow, I made it on to the tree without getting wet or knocking my camera into the murky pond. The tree trunk was thick and I could barely straddle it.  It was too rough, though,  to simply crawl on my hands and knees. Slowly, cautiously, I moved along the trunk, catching my pants on the rough bark a few times. After about fifteen feet, I decided to look down. I saw my reflection in the cold water. It yelled “STUPID!!!” at me. I realized that my phone was in my back pocket. I calculated what would happen if I fell in the water: my phone would be ruined; my camera could be ruined too; and I would be cold, wet, and muddy for the nearly two-mile walk home.

But, I didn’t crawl out there for nothing! Though still some distance away, I could tell that the tree had buds. I shot a few pictures of the branches and even one of the interesting water plants that are starting to poke their heads above the waterline. Then, very carefully, I moved in reverse back to the bank. I didn’t chance trying to turn around.

Later, on my walk, I found another tree with these buds. I took a sample home to photograph later. I believe this is a silver maple. Silver maples are plentiful around here. I think I even have a few in my yard. I know how to identify them by their leaves, or with the ever-present, gutter-clogging samara that whirl through the air in late Spring, but I never noticed what the flower buds on the tree looked like. Yet another example of noticing something in nature that I hadn’t before, even though it has been there all the time.

Fallen Silver Maple Over The Pond

Roots of tree

Roots, from a different angle. Those branches look closer than they really are.

Red bud closeup. Was difficult to keep the camera still from where I was perched.

Didn't I see this in a Dr. Seuss book?

Cold water; cool reflections

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14 responses to “To boldly crawl…

  1. Pingback: The Tree: Still There | Four Deer Oak

  2. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
    I enjoyed the photos.

  3. I would be curious too. The red buds are just too enticing. But I will never be as brave as you. What an effort and risky endeavor to take these photos. Great job!

  4. I want someone to go out and try to put the tree upright and re-bury the roots. (I don’t know what that says about me!)

    • I wondered about how much noise it made when it fell. I went back through my photos to see if it toppled recently. It was down as early as January. Even though it is still trying to live, it makes me sad too that it fell. I have an oak tree in my yard that an arborist once said was well over 200 years old. Think of all the things that tree has seen. If it falls while I live here, it will make me very sad (and I hope nobody is nearby!)

  5. Weird! What are they? So you didn’t leave your camera running on the bank and film the whole escapade for our pleasure?

    • No, Gabriel. I don’t usually hike with my tripod and while I could have programmed it to take several shots, my camera doesn’t do video. Or maybe it does and I did….and I’m just not going to ever show to the world! It’d go viral though, I bet.

      The red flowers are the buds to the silver maple tree. The red maple also can have red buds, but they are a little simpler than these. Have no idea what the water plant is.

  6. Hilarious and reminiscent of similar foolish escapades: lots to laugh about as we “go boldly forth” pursuing our arts! Thank you!

    • I’m glad that I can laugh about it. I might not have been if I had fallen into the water. The air temp that day was only about 45 degrees and I’m sure water was very cold!

  7. Fun story. Cool photos. I’ve always been fascinated by the root mounds of uprooted trees. Don’t know why – just am. Nice shots.

    • I am too! I was fascinated by the ferns and mosses that were growing in the root mound. Amazing that this tree still has enough nutrients in it to produce the buds. Maybe it is it’s last attempt to continue on into the future.

  8. “Yet another example of noticing something in nature that I hadn’t before, even though it has been there all the time.”

    There are so many small details in both nature and life that are wondrous to behold, yet have always been there waiting for us to discover.

    Kudos to you for noticing. And kudos to you for being brave. If this was the dentist’s office, I would give you a prize. 🙂