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The Easy Tree

image: pixabay

Twitter can be fun sometimes because you can follow famous people and even respond to their musings. Sometimes, they might even respond to your response, somehow validating an otherwise humble existence.

In teaching for decades I've often asked as a warm-up question "what famous person have you met?" and I was initially surprised at how many people have actually met a famous person. Nearly everyone in nearly every room has met or encountered at least one famous person. We're all so close to connection that it's wonderful.

One of the famous people I've met (who no doubt will not remember me) is the writer and producer Gennifer Hutchison. We met at a wedding in California. She's closely associated with the TV show "Breaking Bad" which I loved so it was a thrill to meet her. 

That's all just me bragging and pretending that it's establishing context for this tweet that I'd like to respond to:

I still think about the Easy Tree. 

There were two prominent trees in our neighborhood in Southern New Jersey -- one that was tall and complicated and hard to climb because it was dangerous.

The other had big limbs, strong branches, and ample space that made it easy to climb. We of course called that the Easy Tree.

We climbed it almost every day.

One day we decided to build something in that tree. We might have had an elaborate tree house in mind although honestly we lacked the engineering or carpentry skills to pull that off. We didn't even have adequate tools. We used bricks to pound in the nails to hold the lumber. Bad idea.

It was not my brick, but it might as well have been because I felt so bad about what happened. One of the bricks slipped (predictably) out of the hands of one of us and landed on my brother Dave's head. There was a lot of blood.

We carried him home where my dad administered copious amounts of water and whatever magic that parents do to save their children's lives. There might well have been a trip to the doctor and stitches involved. (There were indeed stitches and my brother had a scar on his forehand after that, but he did make a complete and remarkably fast recovery.)

"Just like a boxer," I remember my granddad saying. "The head bleeds a lot."

The Easy Tree was never quite the same after that and I don't remember ever climbing it again. But I do think of it often and how very upset I was to see my brother hurt. I cried more than he did, and I was four years older than him.

Well, Ms. Hutchison -- that's the tree I think about. How about you?

-- doug smith



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