Tuesday, May 14, 2013

It’s a Bird, It’s a Squirrel, It’s Goldenrail in a Tree!

“Ba Nchimunya, mulaputa,” it was a common refrain on my family’s compound, about as common as my mother saying, “get out of that tree, you have a dress on.”  But I love climbing trees, and so puta-ing* or not, up I go.

Heels or bare footed, dress or trousers, those branches call my name.  Long arms and long legs make for great climbing.  Don’t worry, I have pantaloons to wear when climbing trees in dresses.

When I was growing up, we had an excellent climbing tree in front of the house, on the strip between the sidewalk and the street.  Lightning hit one of the lower branches one year, and Daddy had to remove the branch.  That made the tree a little harder to climb, but I still managed.  Luckily, I was tall enough by then to reach other branches.


In Zambia, there was an excellent mulberry tree right outside my first hut.  My climbing that tree led to the mulaputa accusations.  It’s branches were small but sturdy.  And climbing it meant access to mulberries that the children hadn’t been able to get.  

I'm in a tree

The family I stayed with in Nigeria had a beautiful lemon tree directly outside their kitchen window.  I startled the maid one day by suddenly peeking in the second-story window from the tree.  The family’s young daughters decided I had a great idea in getting into the tree and learned to climb it themselves.


Africa seems to be fully of great climbing trees.  At a party for some of the girls’ friends, I found the perfect photographing spot high in the branches of a nearby tree.

aurelia in tree 1

That particular climb was extra great because I had on one of my favorite pairs of shoes for climbing.   5” wedges with a very flat ball and toe area.  The small wedge was great for, well, wedging into branch joints, and the flat front flexed with my foot and allowed for good traction on the tree bark.

walking shoes

I’ve climbed trees in other heels, too.  On my first trip to Mr. Trizzle’s home, I attended one of his friend’s birthday parties.  It was in a park with a great climbing tree.  So up I went.  One of the party guests was so impressed that I was in a tree in heels, he kept taking pictures.  Sadly, I don’t have any of his pictures.  But there are plenty of other great climbing trees in the Bay Area, like this beauty at Cordornices Park in Berkeley.  It provides a great view of the basketball courts.

Aurelia in a tree at Cordinices Park 2010 

Maybe someday I’ll stop climbing trees, but I doubt it’ll be anytime soon.

*kuputa roughly translates as to be playing with something you’re not supposed to be playing with

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