Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Rubber Trees

Rubber Trees

We were "swingers of birches" . . .

I didn't realize it until seventh or eighth grade. That's when I read the poem by Robert Frost. Of course, I didn't know those trees were birches. I don't think any of us knew they were birches. To us? There were rubber trees!

Not all birches are white, you know. Some look like normal-colored trees. Our rubber trees sure looked normal! The only difference was they could bend. They could bend real far! The lighter you were, the farther up the trunk you had to climb. As high as those tender tree-tops could hold you. That way, you could swing all the way down to the ground. But before you started swinging, you just couldn't help but look around . . . Perched so high in the sky, you could see for miles! The pond looked like a puddle from our "perch on high". Of course, we were small then, but you couldn't help but sigh with excitement at the view of the entire countryside spanned below.

Then one of us started the motion, and we all joined in! Giving our small bodies their all - we grunted and groaned in an attempt to swing that tall tree top all the way to the ground. Our squeals of delightful laughter drifted with the breeze over the empty cornfields. We were flying! When our feet finally touched the ground, we could barely catch our breath before starting up the tree again! And if the one we just dismounted grew limp? There was always another. In fact, I remember rows and rows of those trees . . . those rubber trees.

It was different in the winter, though. Especially after a heavy snow . . . or an ice storm. We had to be more careful climbing up those slippery branches. The ride down was also a little slower, too. I'm sure those rubber trees suffered under our light-weight bodies. Their trunks were stiff with the cold of winter - crackling and moaning as we clung tightly to the branches. But they still bowed us down ever so gently. And after an ice storm . . . we crunched across the broken glass that had splintered from the now flaccid trunks to another rubber tree ripe for riding. We thought we could last forever, until our noses and fingers and toes told us they were too cold to continue any more.

Yes, Mr. Frost, we're glad you were a lot like we used to be. I'm glad you were a swinger of rubber trees, too.