Twisted limbs on the island’s trees told unwritten stories about storms endured.
Triple trunks grew from the point of one tree where a previous trunk had toppled.
The purpose of the trip to the island off the coast of South Carolina was to see wildlife. Indeed, we would see an ibis colony, a variety of water birds, and enough fiddler crabs to provide fried claws for a Cajun family. But what struck me upon our arrival at the island was the temptation of the trees. I wanted to climb them.
Good climbing trees are hard to find, but one grove in Pickney Island National Wildlife Refuge could lure any little boy to grab the first limb and not stop until he had reached the point where branches wouldn’t hold him.
The trees also beckoned to this older boy.
There are more rules at wildlife refuges than I’ve gotten around to reading, but I’ve never noticed one posted that says you can’t climb the trees.
All I did on this trip was vault myself onto one trunk that made a 90-degree angle a little less than 5 feet up. What I wanted to do was keep climbing, but I knew that was ill advised.
That’s one of the problems with getting older: Reason rather than adventure sways your decisions. Still I wanted to shinny past the next turn in that trunk or bounce over to one of the oaks that stretched a graceful arm almost to the ground.
Climbing trees was one of my favorite boyhood pastimes. The first tree I ever climbed was a pine. Pines aren’t known as great climbing trees, but young pines work fine for young boys or girls who are tall enough to reach the lowest limb and light enough not to break a branch while working their way up. Later I would see how high I could get in bigger trees when I was out of sight of my mom, who was a worrywart.
Trees didn’t have to be tall to be fun. A favorite, at the right time of the year, was a mulberry that grew on the bank of a canal not far from my house.
When the berries were ripe, I would lean my pellet rifle against an adjacent tree and work my way up the mulberry, eating as I went. There was no hiding the stains from my mother.
My kids were lucky enough to grow up with woods around our home.
My daughter, Sarah, dubbed one cedar with a broken trunk the Science Tree. She’d find a spot on that tree to read and sometimes even to read to her little brother, Casey.
Later, Casey and his friends would slip into the woods with my tools and leftover lumber to build treehouses.
I tried to stay out of their way except to check occasionally on the sturdiness of their construction or search for a missing hammer.
Maybe I need to round them up for a family vacation to visit the trees of Pickney Island.