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Thursday 25 Jul 2024

Go Climb a Tree
AJ Robinson

This is an old saying. There used to be whole bunches of them: You sound like a broken record, I’ve crossed the Rubicon, damn your eyes, and so on. These days, most young people probably don’t know what a record is; you’d have to say they sound like an mp3 file caught in a loop – or something like that. As for “Go climb a tree,” they might take it as a suggestion. I remember it because Captain Kirk said it to Kur, the Klingon he faced in “Errand of Mercy." I couldn’t help but think, "Wow, they still use that saying in the future?" I was young, I was a devote Trekkie, what did I know?

Recently, the saying has taken on new meaning to my wife and me. Our dog, Juliet, is determined to learn how to climb a tree!

We now live in an apartment complex; nice place with many open green areas, trees, and plenty of squirrels. Juliet loves to chase those critters, and they seem to know it. Many times, when we’re on one of our walks, they seem to position, deliberately, themselves right in her line of sight. She sees them, and bolts after them. It’s a good thing we have one of those long retractable leashes (twenty feet in length), otherwise Juliet would yank me right off my feet! For a small dog, she has soooommeeee muscles. The squirrel races back and forth across the grass or parking lot, Juliet swerves and a bob, trying to catch it and then the squirrel zips up the nearest tree.

Juliet does not let that stop her. No, she runs straight up the tree after the squirrel! Unfortunately, while Juliet may be fast, she cannot outrun the Law of Gravity. She reaches a certain point where her upward thrust, but the downward pull of gravity brings her back down. Wham, she hits the ground, and not on her feet, mind you, rolls over, gets to her feet, and stares up at the tree. The squirrel, I swear it sits up there among the branches and laughs at her! No matter how many times she does it, she never seems to learn that she can’t climb a tree.

Then, recently, an event took place that seemed to put the lie to that belief. As usual, we were out for one of our evening walks. As usual, a squirrel started baiting Juliet, and, as usual, this led to a chase and a race up a tree. Ah, but there was something different this time; the squirrel went up a palm tree; we live in Orlando, Florida. Juliet followed, but with something else different: she was able to wrap her front paws around the trunk of the tree owing to its smaller diameter. Up, up, up she went, almost to the top! I was truly amazed at her efforts. Her victory was short-lived. Once more, gravity won out, and she plunged to the earth below. While shaken, she was unharmed.

Yet, she did win one tiny victory against her tormentor. The squirrel, sitting up among the palm fronds, actually seemed quite shocked at Juliet’s efforts and did not laugh at her. I couldn’t swear to it, but it does seem that, ever since, the squirrels are not so quick to tease Juliet.

Combining the gimlet-eye of Philip Roth with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Working, again, as an engineeer, after years out of the field due to 2009 recession and slow recovery, Robinson finds time to write. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true. His teen vampire adventure novel, "Vampire Vendetta," will publish in 2020. Robinson continues to write books, screenplays and teleplays and keeps hoping for that big break.

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