If I can’t be found…

it’s just because I’ve moved to a tree top. Maybe a koa tree, somewhere in Hawaii. It’s not that anything is terrible here, but think of how much better everything would be, from the branches of a giant koa.

I’m putting together a list of outdoor-inspired books to post tomorrow, and at the top is The Baron in the Trees by Italo Calvino. Here’s a short excerpt, taken from goodreads:

I ask you to come down to earth,” said the Baron in a calm, rather faint voice, “and to take up the duties of your station!” 

“I have no intention of obeying you, my Lord Father,” said Cosimo. “I am very sorry.” 

They were ill at ease, both of them, bored. Each knew what the other would say. “And what about your studies? Your devotions as a Christian?” said the father. “Do you intend to grow up like an American Savage?” 

Cosimo was silent. These were thoughts he had not yet put to himself and had no wish to. Then he exclaimed: “Just because I’m a few yards higher up, does it mean that good teaching can’t reach me?” 

This was an able reply too, though it diminished, in a way, the range of his gesture; a sign of weakness. 

His father realized this and became more pressing. “Rebellion cannot be measured by yards,” said he. “Even when a journey seems no distance at all, it can have no return.” 

Now was the moment for my brother to produce some other noble reply, perhaps a Latin maxim, but at that instant none came into his head, though he knew so many by heart. Instead he suddenly got bored with all this solemnity, and shouted: “But from the trees I can piss farther,” a phrase without much meaning, but which cut the discussion short. 

As though they had heard the phrase, a shout went up from the ragamuffins around Porta Capperi. The Baron of Rondo’s horse shied, the Baron pulled the reins and wrapped himself more tightly in his cloak, ready to leave. Then he turned, drew an arm out of his cloak, pointed to the sky, which had suddenly become overcast with black clouds, and exclaimed: “Be careful, son, there’s Someone who can piss on us all!”

If that doesn’t make you want to move to the trees, I don’t know what will.

In addition to the Calvino inspiration, Pete Nelson, a professional treehouse creator (!), will be lecturing at the Denver Botanic Garden, on May 24. I may descend from the branches, just for the occasion…

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4 thoughts on “If I can’t be found…

  1. I loved that book. I’ll have to read it again soon. I feel like I’m in a tree house right now. I’m in the upstairs of the farmhouse looking out at three horses playing in the field surrounded by lots of fine trees. Great to be visiting the Farm this weekend.

    • I lived in that room for most of high school. I agree that it’s like a little tree house. Along with the creaking floor boards, the wind whistling in through the old windows, and the close sound of rain on the roof – one of my favorite bedrooms ever.

      • I’m loving the Baron in the Trees more than the first time I read it. Have we got an article for you from Sun magazine–TREES. It will be in the mail next week.

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