Thirty Feet Up

Random Tree House - Med

The making of a sanctuary

There are times when a memory comes rushing forward from a special time and place deep within us. When that happens it can be both startling and exhilarating. That happened to me today and I'd like to share it with you. The memory is over forty-five years old and, at least for the moment, it's as clear to me as it was while I was living it as a small-town teenage boy.
This is where that memory begins.

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  • Lisa Jensen
    Mar. 28, 2011
    Beautiful blog entry, Rod. IMHO, the best so far!

    The initial lines of your post and the accompanying photo immediately flooded my mind similar and beloved memories! My "sanctuary" or I should say the "neighborhood sanctuary" of my youth was an enormous old pine tree in the backyard of the Gault family.

    I don't know what kind of tree it was nor have I ever seen a tree like it since, but Mr. Gault (the only real live cop any of us had ever met (!) ) had climbed under that massive tree and somehow shirred off enough branches to leave a huge interior "tee pee-like" space while the remaining ones drooped all the way to the ground providing total seclusion and privacy. It was the perfect spot for the most special of childhood sanctuaries! It was quiet and dark with the tiniest shards of sunlight giving just the right amount of light to spend hours under its cover and under its spell. Sharing secrets, playing "house", playing "Pioneers and Indians" (P.S. I was always the "indian" given my own Native American ancestry, so please spare me any sensitivity to that term!) or just the place to find a cool escape from the sweltering eastern Washington summers. We LOVED that tree! We spent hours under that tree. I can't imagine my childhood without that tree. It was under the safe and protecting branches of that tree that we talked about all our hopes, dreams and the latest neighborhood and school yard gossip. It was the place we stole away to with our own stash of precious penny candy from Ernie's Market that we had earned by gathering errant pop bottles for their 5 cent deposit return. It was a place no adults ever considered entering and that was an important part of its allure. It was not unusual to spend every summer afternoon under "our" tree debating all of life's meaningful issues and learning childhood-centric concepts as they related to power, positioning, and the politics of play.

    Although I drive by my childhood home every year or so (luckily the homestead is still "in the family" so to speak), it has been decades since I have even thought about that dear, grand old tree. Thank you for your post and for being the catalyst that flung me surprisingly and suddenly back into the sanctuary of my own youth! I can hardly wait, on my next visit to my hometown, to peek over the fence of the old Gault house and see if that tree still exists!! Or maybe I won't. It really won't matter either way. It still exists and always will... right inside of me. :-) So as they say, Rod, thanks for the memories!

The Fine Print

Rod Brooks (that's me) is VP & CMO of PEMCO Mutual Insurance Company and serves as Immediate Past Chair of the Board of Directors for the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA).  It's important to disclose both of those relationships and to be clear that this is my personal blog where I share thoughts and opinions that are solely my own.  Contact me!

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