Rusel Demaria

Cave Junction, OR

I am cocooned in my sleeping bag, aware of a slight undulation that coincides with a light breeze. in it the scent of pine and earth and damp. There is a faint whisper of light and my eyes flicker open, blink a few times and take in the most amazing scene. In sleep, I have forgotten where I am. In awakening, I see it again for the first time. I am 110 feet high in a Douglas Fir, less than halfway to the top. My Treeboat is slung under a massive branch that curves slightly upward and away from me, gesturing toward the rising sun. The needles on the lush branch glisten and shine. Below me, thousands of feet below, lies the Rogue River Valley of southern Oregon, USA.


I am cradled in the arms of this beneficent tree, rocked gently in the wind, perfumed by the scent of bark and needles and pitch. I lay here, content, for several breaths, then, grasping my Monkeytail--my safety line through the night high above the forest floor--I lift myself slowly. I notice that I am still wearing my climbing gloves and my Zipka lamp embraces my wrist like a fat wristwatch. As I rise, the panorama unfolds around me. Behind me to the north, the beautiful and picturesque Portal Fir stands on a nearby hillside, glowing in the first light. To the east, the sun is winking at me, just making the day begin, casting long shadows over the fields, lakes and rivers below. Morning comes early, high on the hill, high in a tree. I watch the sleepy valley below awaken.


Above me, my sweetheart sleeps in her Treeboat. She is so utterly peaceful. I must preserve this moment. and quietly I extract my camera from its bag, turn it on and snap a picture. She is the perfect image of bliss, with the new rays of the sun playing gently across her face. It is the most glorious morning I can remember. I realize, with gratitude, that this magnificent tree has me in its arms, literally, and that I am safe, supported and loved. I wonder if there are any brownies left for breakfast.

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