The Hurricane Tree

When I was a kid a hurricane was coming. It was the first hurricane I was old enough to be aware of. And, being left to my own devices, I decided I wanted to get a good look at it.

So I walked down the wind blown and deserted street to the house of a friend. I went to the backyard and climbed the largest tree (really, the only tree) on the street. I’m climbing higher and higher; the branches are getting narrower and narrower; the wind is getting stronger and stronger. So at one point I stopped climbing.

Not out of fear, I should take a class and learn how to do that, but because I could finally see above the school next door. A dark, whipping view of, well, darkness whipping things around. the tree is swaying. I see the school then a moment later I’m seeing the sky above me. So I did what any kid my age would have done. Well, if the kid was as dumb ass as me. I held on tighter.

I must say the outer edges of a hurricane has it’s own fierceness. Between the wind and rain pelting my face and making my eyes as wide as paper the constant slapping from the undulating branches was batting me around pretty good. So I did what any moron, such as myself, would have done. I adjusted my seat trying to wedge myself tighter into the two largest branches.

It’s at this point I learned a pretty important lesson:

Just because something is bigger doesn’t necessarily mean it’s better.

I prop myself into my new perch happy to witness the wonder of weather all alone. I was happy because I was going to be the first one to see the hurricane blow into my city. So it went like that for some time, wet wet, blow blow, slap slap, bend.

It was like an E ticket ride at Dizknee. Which, to a kid who’d never been to Dizknee, was the best analogy he could come up with. So, doubting he’d ever get to Dizknee he strapped himself in for his Dizknee and waited for the ride to start.

Turns out, it was starting in another six seconds.

The branch I was leaning on snapped. Have you ever known your shoelaces were getting frayed but you’re still surprised when they break? That’s how it was with me. There was so much sound, snapping branches all around me, leaves flapping in my face, the force of the air pressure making everything seem so far off in the distance.

So you can just imagine my surprise when I started to fall.

I’ll cut to the chase: I didn’t die.

But I got my ass whooped by every friggin’ branch, my skin rubbed raw by bark, my face got it’s share of dope slapping on the way down. I didn’t fall straight down. I hit, and sometimes took along with me, all the branches I’d climbed up on.

Over the years I’ve debated within myself if it would have been better going straight down. I wasn’t thinking of it in terms of injury. Either way I was still going to have a pretty good fall. But more in terms of thinking about what was going to happen.

“My mother’s going to kill me if. . .”

There were many things to think of after if. Such as, I tear my clothes; I break open my skull (again this summer); I break a leg or something else, I get hurt but not too hurt so it won’t stop her from spanking me for being an idiot. Oh the list was endless. Whereas, if I’d not hit every branch as I pinballed down the tree, I would have had time for only one thought.

“Gee. I wonder how much this is going to hurt?”

By the time I was getting to the bigger, lower branches I found that, although I could slow myself down, I could take the hits and try to hold them for a second or two. But there came that time when there was only one thing to do: drop straight down to the ground.

You may find this hard to believe but that didn’t bother me at all. You see, I’m a city kid. We play all sports on asphalt. Everything we did was on asphalt. There are still chunks of my flesh on the streets and school yards of that city. What was going to happen now had to be infinitely better: I was going to fall on grass and dirt.

Here’s something about falling on grass and dirt. Even if you’re an experienced asphalt faller, it still hurts like a bitch. I watched as the grass, friendly grass, got closer. I figured I’d lean in with my shoulder, like I was taking out the earth during a full contact tackling drill, and land on the soft, soft grass harmlessly.

I was probably thinking that as I hit with thud. To this day I’ll argue with you that the wounded animal roar I heard was from the core of the earth.

“Yeah! Take that Mother Earth.”

Okay, so maybe now I wouldn’t argue too long but if you’d fronted me about this when I was eight I’d have been like,

‘Bitch, I moved the international date line. All your clocks are three minutes late now, sucker.’

I started to get up, considering what had just happened, none the worse for wear, brushing leaves and bark off my clothes, pulling branches from places they should never be placed, even in a jest, and just making sure I’m not any stupider than I was before.

After I’m sure I’ll be able to get away with this I smile. Sure, I’m scratched up some and tomorrow I might not feel so cuckoo for coco puffs but it won’t seem like anything out of the ordinary. In our neighborhood the saying was, a day without bloodshed is like a day without play.

I turn to leave when the last indignation occurs. A branch, which must of been stuck up there, fell and hit me in the head. I kicked it truly pissed. But don’t think badly of the young me, I didn’t know shit about karma yet.

I leave the yard and the wind is still blowing and the rain is still falling and the streets are still empty. Except for one guy sitting on his porch.

I didn’t see him until I was in the middle of the street. Trust me, if I’d seen him I would have crossed much later. I didn’t have to wonder long if he’d seen my daring bit of do.

“Get home. Didn’t you hear? There’s a hurricane coming.”

“Thanks. I’m going there now.” Ha! He didn’t see anything. I pass his house. I’m in the clear.

“And don’t climb that tree again. You almost broke your neck.” DOH!

It only took me a few seconds to regain my composure as I continued home.

After all, I didn’t break my neck.

2 responses to “The Hurricane Tree

  1. I am truly inspired now for hurricane season. Get a case of beer somwhere on the coast, get all liquored up and then go all Zevon-like and go to outside and get a good running start into the wind and then hurl yourself into the ‘cane….

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