Outdoors: Up a tree

Picture this: After knocking off for the day, a spry young woman (hereinafter referred to as Becky) emerges from her place of business on Kenilworth Road and finds, to her surprise, a strange black-and-white dog sitting at the base of a large oak tree, gazing upward longingly. Upon closer inspection, Becky discovers a young, bearded fellow perched in a nest of limbs high above. After petting the amiable canine and exchanging a few cordial words with this mysterious acrobat, Becky gets into her station wagon and drives home, pondering this peculiar encounter.

Up a tree with a banjo: Lauren Joffe joined tree-climber (and author) Charlie Keller for an outing on his one-tree-a-day-for-a-year quest. Photo by Stephanie Milford

Perhaps it ignites a long-dormant ember of passion still smoldering within Becky, touching her so profoundly that she decides then and there to rekindle that lost flame by climbing a tree a day for the rest of her life — and maybe even keeping a running account of her arboreal adventures. Or does she just plunk down on the couch and turn on the TV?

I'm a man of many passions. I've traveled this world over and picked the banjo till my fingers were sore. I've dined with the best of 'em, hoisted a stein with the rest of 'em. But above all else, I like to climb trees. Always have. Tree climbing is my own personal yoga, a physical, emotional and spiritual euphoria that's right there at my fingertips — truly the butter on my bagel.

But it was on New Year's Eve, as I sat in a mountaintop cabin wrapped in the warmth of my dearest compadres, that I decided to truly give this passion its due. My New Year's resolution for 2010 is to climb a different tree every day — rain or shine — and keep a daily account of what has so far turned out to be a pretty epic endeavor.

Now keep in mind, dear reader, that when I came to this conclusion, not only was I a wee bit hazy-headed from the champagne, but this particular day happened to be warm and sunny. I failed to take into account Jack Frost's icy finger, which seems to have been a pretty common theme this winter. There have indeed been some pretty frosty climbs thus far.

Naturally, the question of why? comes into play here. Let's just say it's one step up from hugging a tree every day. Besides, everybody does yoga — and at least this doesn't require a mat. Seriously, though, I do believe the world would be a better place if we each climbed a tree every day.

And so, dear reader, if you ever happen to emerge from your place of business to discover a strange, black-and-white cookie of a dog sitting faithfully at the base of a tree, please don't call the cops. Best to just pet the dog and go about your day. Or join me: I would love the company…

When he's not climbing trees, Asheville resident Charlie Keller teaches at Evergreen Charter School.
Tree climbing is my own personal yoga — a physical, emotional and spiritual euphoria that's right there at my fingertips.


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