My brothers and I used to play in the white oak that grew in the corner of our front yard. Perched in its branches, we sailed the world. The white oak had everything we needed for our journey: a galley, a hold, a deck, sailor's quarters, a sturdy "crow's nest" in the uppermost branches. It had a plank, too -- a branch where mutinous villians had to hang upside down by the crooks of their knees.
Almost everyday during my childhood, I climbed a tree: oak, walnut, pine, sycamore, mangrove. Most of our forts were made within the confines of a tree's branches. There was a huge red pepper tree down the street, whose branches fell like a weeping willow's all the way to the ground, leaving a hollowed out area in the center around the trunk. We set up house underneath that tree, and many of the toys we brought there remained there for years.
I had no idea then that these trees were growing into me, that I was growing into them.