A few days ago I sat in the park by LACMA reading a book and watching a few kids try to climb a tree. What they lacked in dexterity and experience was made up in enthusiasm. Their parents hovered ’round, arms stretched up, ready to catch or to lend a steadying hand.
When I sat down on the bench there were no kids in sight, but I had noticed that the tree was a good climbing tree. I had considered climbing it myself, but I had seen security guards earlier and I doubted they would look kindly on the crazy lady in the tree. But kids are free to indulge in their climbing whims. I miss tree climbing.
I moved into a house with a good climbing tree in the front yard when I was 2 and a half. I don’t remember the first time I climbed up into its branches. I could never climb the rope that hung from my elementary school gym’s ceiling, but was always good at tree climbing. It made me feel strong and (after I realized that other kids were scared) climbing made me feel fearless.
Most recently, I climbed into a friend’s avocado tree. I can think of no better reason, but after I was back on the ground my friend told me that no one else had ever gone up the tree to harvest avocados. Adults just don’t seem to climb trees very much, which is a shame.
This is L’Arbre aux Echelles which translates into The Tree with Ladders, by French artist François Méchain. In his artist statement he writes that the work is “a poetic invitation to look at the world from another point of view, from further away, from higher up.”
I like a lot – seeing the world from a different point of view is traditionally the purview of artists, but anyone can do it.
This piece is on the grounds of Château de Chaumont by the Loire River, in France. I wonder if visitors are allowed to climb up the ladders. Maybe, the French seem less concerned about things like that.