Emily Eckart

White Pine

Adults are not supposed to climb trees. If you’re spotted on the ascent, you get suspicious looks and sometimes questions. There is a sense that tree climbing should be forbidden, though no one can quite say why.

Tree climbing is best done alone. White pines have low, sturdy branches, evenly spaced from bottom to top. They were made for this. You climb the first part quickly, hoping to avoid onlookers. Ten feet up, you’re free. The pine needles screen you from view, and most people don’t look up anyway.

Each tree is its own place, with travel routes, formations, view points. Years ago, the tree you used to climb had a fork halfway up, its twin trunks rising higher with their branches entwined. You climbed between them to reach that one thick, generous branch, perfect for sitting and gazing through the gap in the green needles. You looked down at the yellow house with red shutters, where your mom folded laundry in your bedroom, faint music from her CD player slipping through the open window. Your dad hosed off h