Sixty years ago, a boy had to find his own
adventures, especially when the rest of his
neighborhood pals disappeared inside for
an afternoon nap or headed downtown
to a movie matinee with their moms.
The quest then for my personal version
of excitement often led me on a solo
make-believe expedition into the shadowy,
secluded terrain in our expansive backyard.

Tiptoeing from one stone to the next,
carefully weaving around stalks of iris
and day lilies to avoid leaving any trace
of my climb through the rock garden,
I summit the top of the rampart to face
the challenge of my mission’s objective:
an enormous, stately weeping willow tree,
its forlorn limbs dancing hypnotically
in the gentle breeze, beckoning me onward
into unexplored territory, taunting me
to test my courage at perilous heights
like some kind of wild creature
instinctively familiar with the
forest primeval.

Worm's-eye view of a fresh green weeping willow with spring's clear blue sky in the background

Grabbing at one branch after another,
I ascend as far as I dare, feeling the supple
top of the tree bending with the wind.
The willow and I are seemingly one now,
high above the rooftops, commanding a
bird’s-eye view of my little world far below.
The clouds appear almost within my reach,
and the sky has never looked so deep and
blue. I could stay perched here forever,
just gazing upward, looking for heaven.