The Prune: A beacon tree once shown light on Prune’s thoughts

THE EVER-LOYAL Max, used to sitting beneath the beacon tree as he waits for his 8-year-old master, stands guard next to a maple. submitted photo

by Todd Sharp

When I was 8, I occasionally would run off to our 18-tree orchard and climb up in the beacon apple tree to hide away.

Climbing trees started out as a slightly risky way to escape for a little personal time and contemplation.

I found a perfectly angled limb about 7 feet up with a nice flat spot for my legs, hinder and back.

I could rest and relax in peace on that solidly built, natural hammock sort of perch.

Braving a fall if I dozed off to sleep, I’d comfortably daydream innocent and diabolical kid thoughts.

The beacon is a handsome apple with tough skin, a bland dry flavor, fibrous off-color tan flesh, and is similar to the mis-named Red Delicious.

I liked the tree more for the stiffness of its horizontal branches than its fruity shortcomings.

I would sit in the tree, believing I was secluded and hidden away from the world.

In reality I was less than 30 yards from the side door and patio, but the tree canopy made me feel secure and private.

I was alone except for my best friend, Max, a huge, silver and black German Shepherd, who laid in the cool grass shade beneath the Beacon tree, listening attentively regardless of the gripe or dream I was trying to sort out or what songs I was singing.

I’m sure Max saved my parents 10 times his weight in Purina dog food for the cost of therapy sessions.

After the self-prescribed amount of time, solitude and fresh air, I would climb back down with my 8-year-old’s quandary sorted out and ready to face what chased me up the tree in the first place.

As I’ve gotten older, larger questions have required my time to contemplate, to find answers and get to the core of the issue.

For me, seeking individual answers to universal questions is best done in the outdoors; walking on a trail, riding a bike, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, just sitting and watching a stream, leaves rustling, or a sunset.

I’m going to look for a nice horizontal tree branch in the forest of maples, oaks, birches and

pines where I live now, climb up, and think about getting a dog.

Editor’s note: When not hanging in trees that his doggy cannot climb , Todd Sharp sells advertising for the Green Laker, Express and The Ripon Commonwealth Press.