Christal Cooper – 612 Words
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HER PLEASANT COMPANIONS
“The tree sways ever so gently.
It’s not a building; it’s a living thing.
Trees have their own personalities,
and they are very accepting and comforting.
You’re up there and you are a part of it.
It is just you and nature.”
Naomi Ruth Waggener Rice
Active Tree Climber and Tree Climbers USA member Naomi Ruth (which means Pleasant Companion In Hebrew) Waggener Rice fell in love with trees at an early age. As a six year old, the shy Rice did not feel as comfortable with people as she did with trees. She lived in Alabama and considered her backyard of woods her own playground, and the trees her playmates. Later, something happened that changed her perspective on trees.
“When I was six I was bouncing on the branch in this dogwood tree. The branch broke and I broke my femur and fractured my jaw.”
The active six-year-old was constrained into a half body cast. The accident also resulted in her not climbing trees for the next three to four years. She still spent her time exploring the woods and its animals and taking walks with her cat Smokey. Smokey would kill animals and the animals he didn’t kill Waggener tried to rescue. Flutter, a small bird, managed to escape Smokey’s claws. Waggener fed the bird with an eyedropper tube and made the bird a little hammock from cloth to ease the bird’s suffering. When Flutter died she was crushed until she moved to the outskirts of Atlanta, Georgia at the age of ten.
“One day I was looking at the tree in our front yard and thought, ‘Why did I stop climbing trees?’ I don’t remember too much (of the accident) because my brain tends to delete my bad memories. I told myself, ‘I do love climbing trees.’”
Waggener took the trees as her pleasant companion once again. Her love and interest in trees grew even more when, at the age of twelve, she spotted her brother Tim reading an article about tree climbing. After reading it herself, she was thrilled to learn that the experience the article described was exactly what she experienced while climbing trees. She contacted the tree climbing club mentioned in the article and attended their classes. When she was thirteen she bought her own equipment and has been climbing trees ever since.
“Tree climbing is a lot freer than rock climbing because with tree climbing you can stop, rest, swing, and bounce off the tree from branch to branch.”
The necessary equipment for tree climbing is not as expensive or complex as mountain or rock climbing equipment: a tree climbing harness; a long rope; a “D” shaped tool that clicks the climber to the rope being climbed; and a throw line which is a small yellow line with a bean bag attached. The double rope technique, where the rope goes up and over the branch and then is tied by a series of knots, is the most common technique used in climbing trees.
Waggener says climbing trees is not always a bed of roses. When she starts on the ground she is sometimes attacked by swarms of hungry mosquitoes. On the other hand, Waggener prefers the bottom part of the tree because the rope is at its longest which enables her to get the best and widest swing. There are also those times when the tree’s inhabitants stalk her. One such evening Waggener fell asleep in the tree boat (hammock connected to two limbs) only to be awakened by squirrels squawking, and spitting pieces of acorns on her head.
“Tree climbing is like a dream. I can do this all the time.”
Photo Description and Copyright Information.
Naomi Ruth Waggener Rice. Copyright by Namoi Ruth Waggener Rice.
Scrapbook page of Maya Angelo poem and image by Christal Cooper. Copyright by Christal Cooper.
Naomi climbing a tree. Copyirght by Naomi Ruth Waggener Rice.
Photo 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8.
Married couple Jody Rice (left) and Naomi Ruth Waggener Rice climbing the Naomi Tree. Copyright by Naomi Ruth Waggener Rice.
Naomi in the tree boat. Copyright by Naomi Ruth Waggener Rice.
Squirrell. Photo by David Iliff. Licnse: CC.BY.SA 3.0
Naomi sleeping in the tree boat in the tree. Copyright by Naomi Ruth Waggener Rice.
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