June 28th, 2009

Vine Maple Arches

Vine maples arched over trails in the woods in several places. The arches were formed by a half a dozen or so four to six inch vine maple trunks that started on one side of the path, rose up eight or ten feet and then descended again to the ground. Often, a single trunk was rooted on both sides of the arch. From base to base, the width of the arches were about double the height of the arch– sixteen to twenty feet. That was ample room for a cow to walk under and just high enough to drive under with a small tractor.
For no particular reason that I knew, Dad favored tractor routes through the woods that went under the arches, which may be the reason the arches went over the trails. Or maybe cows favored walking under vine maple arches because the arches came in handy for a good back scratch on the way through the woods. In any case, arches over trails were more frequent than would have occurred by chance.
The kids climbed all over them, jumped from them, and above all else, claimed them. Like many other things, vine maple arches have the ineffable independence from their surroundings that qualifies them as a fort. A vine maple arch could be a Sherwood Forest hide out, a guardhouse at Fort Apache, or the rampart of a crusader castle. They were ideal for planning ambushes and the famous confrontation between Robin Hood and Little John was reenacted time and time again by daredevils carrying quarterstaves and balancing themselves eight or ten feet above the hard ground on a tangle of vine maple trunks.
No one ever admitted to a broken a bone. but there were hard falls that knocked the wind out of a kid and scratches and scrapes beyond counting that were beneath notice. Of course, you must know that my cousins and I were a bunch of thugs who could not separate fun from physical peril. With that mindset, as danger went, vine maple arches were no worse than hay stacks, cedar trees, or even open pasture.

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>