There's a mimosa tree a few houses up the street. We pass it on our evening walks with Josephine. Most times I don't even notice it, but right now the tree is covered in pink pompom like blooms that look like something out of a Dr. Seuss book. Those blooms fill the air with a sweet green smell. That smell along with the cicada soundtrack of summer that was playing in the background, triggered summer time memories from a time so long ago that I'm not even sure those memories are real. They have that shimmery heat wave look to them, like those cartoon images of a mirage. I'm Droopy with a handkerchief on my head.
A mimosa tree grew on the southeast corner of my parent's property. I remember when the tree was small, but only vaguely. Mostly, I remember that tree as being big and tall enough to be my climbing tree and how I would spend hours sitting on one limb or another. If I wasn't in the tree, I was laying under the tree. If wasn't sitting on one limb or another, I was jumping off one limb or another. I remember one summer evening, sitting in that tree while watching a lunar eclipse. The land facing east was still undeveloped and the pasture there stretched on and on. The moon was at it's largest that night taking up more than half the eastern horizon. We were in the middle of preparing for Janell's first wedding and Mom was mad because we were all outside watching the moon instead of beating the carpets with a tennis racket.
There was a brief amount of time after I fell from that tree and broke my arm, where I struggled with climbing it. The fall came from a moment of indecision. I could climb down the way I'd climbed up or I could jump down from the branch I was on. I turned slightly to go ahead and climb down, when my shorts snagged on part of a branch. The momentum of my forward movement halted suddenly by the snag yanked me backwards and I flipped over, landing hard on the ground below with my arm broken in two. After my arm was healed and the cast was gone, I would step up onto my first foot hold, a foot hold that was practically worn into place because I'd used it over and over, and I would pause. I would hesitate to go up any further. My confidence was shaken even though I know the reason I fell from the tree had nothing to do with my climb up into it. Yet, fear would still grip my heart even as I continued to climb on up into the tree and settle into my usual spot.
But I still climbed up into that tree.
That pasture that seemed to stretch for miles is now dotted with houses. The mimosa tree on the corner is now gone. Dad wanted to cut the thing down when I broke my arm, but I begged and pleaded for him not to do it. He got his way when I moved out of the house. I came home one weekend and my tree was just a stump. Dad mumbled something about diseased, but I knew better. Those things are changed or gone now, but the lesson never left me. If I'm standing on that ledge looking down into a crystal clear pool, no matter how tightly fear has wrapped itself around my heart, I'm going to jump.
Because I'm more stubborn than brave.