The first time I "climbed" the tree my brothers put a step ladder against it to help me. Being brothers, they then took the stepladder away, laughing, stranding me in the tree. I yelled and cried until Paula came to rescue me.
Eventually I began climbing higher. I wanted to see the robin's nest, too - the little blue eggs. One summer day I climbed higher than ever before. It's always windy in South Dakota so those branches were moving. I remember being scared, holding on tight as my heart raced. I looked around. It was a clear day and I could see forever over the flat land. The clouds puffed, the branches swayed, the leaves dappled. Fear left me.
Box Elder bugs later attacked the tree and we had to cut it down. The house is gone now, too. It was falling apart and had to make way for a new house to shelter my brother Pete (of stepladder fame) and his family. Even so that day in the grand old tree next to our childhood home is solid in my memory, with its sense of freedom in the conquering of fear.