After browsing the free-time activities during a work retreat, I signed up for a canopy tour. I thought it would be like the canopy tours I did in the past: walking on planks and suspension bridges in trees. How wrong I was. Read the small print they say – but who ever does?
Instead we were whisked up on top of a mountain in a ski lift, trussed and clamped into a harness, and sent down the mountain on ziplines, toes skimming the treetops. Hanging from a wire, wind in my eyes, speeding towards a huge tree, I had to learn to brake with my glove on the wire before hitting it full speed. That’s what the helmets were for – or against.
As I stood under the apex of a lark tree, enjoying the sunlight and hum of the wind in the branches, squirrels scattered in all directions with angry complaints: humans don’t belong in the trees anymore. “Have not done so for quite a while so Go Away!”
Yet I could not help but think of John Muir’s tale about when he rode out a storm in the top of a douglas fir in Yosemite. And I thought of redwood arborists who spend days harnessed and hanging from trees, studying the animals and trees that grow from compost deposited on a redwood branch – and even sleeping suspended in the trees.
And I realized I just may have missed a second calling as an arborist, spending my days up in the trees, researching the microecosystem of a single tree branch. I may have missed a chance for happiness by reverting into a modern monkey.