Living in a remote village in Papua New Guinea at the time meant outdoor play made up a huge chunk of each day and schooling: only 3 hours. When I think, I see it as one of the best periods in my wonderful childhood. And yet, there was no television, limited electricity, very few toys and restricted food choices (a treat was a teaspoon of milo). I remember this time in my life and remind myself: kids don’t need a lot of material things to be happy.
On this particular muggy day, my three sisters and I gathered around the base of a guava tree. As we looked up in the branches, we saw few ripe guavas up high in the tree. As I sit here and type this, I still remember the slightly bitter tang of the green skin and the mild but sweet pink flesh. As usual, my sisters and I were soon joined by a few local children. We were quite a novelty, being one of very few white people in the village.
From my vantage point in the tree, I could see a plump and juicy guava, and I was determined reach it to give to our small friends. I leaned just a little too far, and in a moment of panic, I fell and hit the ground hard, landing on my stomach. I tried to scream, but no sound came. I thought I was going to die, but soon, my mother was there, and my lungs allowed for small breaths once again. No broken bones, just a very sore stomach plus a few scapes and bruises. A fear of climbing trees may have been natural consequence following this incident, but I wasn’t afraid. I continued to climb and love trees. Still do.
My love for trees links my childhood to my present and I find myself yearning to foster creative fun for my children surrounding trees. Together, we discovered that trees can be artists; used milk bottle lids to make mini homes in the branches; put patty cases on leaves for fairy plates; and created a magical rainbow tree with streamers.
Especially for Documenting Delight, I’m sharing more tree fun in the form of branch decoration. This is an easy and cheap project that turns a low tree branch into a magical space for play.
What you need
Glue on gems (you can buy packets from craft or discount stores)
What we did
I wish I could show you how her eye’s sparkled as she held the pretty things in her still chubby hands.
She counts to ten as she holds the gem onto the glue. “…five…”
Together, they decorate.
Early the next morning, in flannelette PJs and gumboots, the kids rush out to see how the gems dried overnight.
“Oh MUM! It’s so beautiful,” Miss 6 said. “We shall call it The Magical Tree.”
The exclamation was followed by play.
Now, every time I drive in our driveway, I spot the bright jewels through the branches, and it makes me smile. Every time. We may just add to the bling, bit by bit.
Ah yes, it’s a good thing to reinvent childhood, with our own kids. It’s trees for me.