weekend warrior seeks tutus ‘n trees

For the past two weeks, I’ve been parked in front of my computer. Yesterday, I finally went stir-crazy and listened to my pleading, sorely underused muscles. “I’ve had it!” I thought, and promptly began stomping around. It was time to get moving.

So I did some ballet for the first time since busting my ankle during my last ballet class in Ithaca, NY (way to make an exit, Nads).

For six years, I’d been a dancer with the Ithaca Ballet, performing roles such as the white/black swan (ooh, sinister), the Sugar Plum Fairy (in “The Nucracker”), and Juliet. I used to dance all night, go home, repeat the next day.

Romeo & Juliet, The Nutcracker, Swan Lake (scratch scratch scratch)

But yesterday, my legs were shaking by the second exercise.

Nobody noticed, of course, but that’s because I was the only person around. Instead of suiting up and facing a wall of studio mirrors, I’d cautiously climbed back into the saddle at home, clinging to a banister for barre exercises and enjoying my view of the redwoods. By the end of the barre sequence, I’d decided to save trying to kick my ear for another day.

Yes, yesterday I felt like this — hardly a dancer:

pwitty ballaweena

This morning, my quads were threatening mutiny.

But I wasn’t done with them yet. I went to CLIMB A TREE! In addition to being a former tutu-wearing bunhead, I’m also a tree-monkey. It’s nearly impossible to pass a good climbing tree without at least making a mental note to return later, or saying, “Hey! That would be a great tree to climb!” — hinting at the need for a diversion — or just jumping right in it, etiquette be damned.

I’m not sure why climbing trees is so appealing. Is it the promise of being up high? The risk-taking aspect of the whole endeavour? (don’t read this, mom) Was I once Tarzan??

I have a blast whizzing through branches and spending a few quiet moments in bird-and-squirrelville before heading back down. One of these days, I really ought to bring a hammock.

Anyway. Today, I headed out to visit our friendly neighborhood state park, since I’d found one of these tantalizing trees there a few weeks ago.

Along the trail, a super slimy banana slug glooped along, the fungus amungus became a loggy bumpus, and a peculiar sign heralded danger:

Mighty Mascot

...in search of mushrooms...

The next "Angry Birds"?






And there were pretty flowers (a shameless and transparent attempt to incorporate flowers because I love ’em, especially when they grow on trees and bushes…):

Blue lovelies

These were on a bush!

Looks like an insect






Then, I arrived at The Tree, a big, multi-trunked, many-branched beauty. Crunching through layers of leaves while collecting spider webs with my face, I wandered over. And hopped in. And went up and up and up. It was fun.

Until my quads starting talking. Dang ballet from yesterday was coming back to bite me.

Better not look down, 'cuz you might just wind up falling...

...and something was weird up there.













At some point, a branch from the main trunk collided with one of the smaller trunks. Over time, the smaller trunk engulfed it. The branch is now growing through it.

nom nom nom

Trees do the darndest things!

In this same patch of redwood forest, there is a tree with trees for branches (“he must work out…”), a ridiculously thick and angry looking ring of redwoods (“does an ogre live in there?“), and an albino redwood tree (a rarity – their locations are closely guarded secrets). Plus, one of the trees in that whacked-out fairy ring is hugging another tree, and nearby there’s a glorious tree for climbing, if only the lowest branches were lower…like, 50 feet lower.

Wandering through these woods is like being in a funky, living sculpture garden:

'roid tree

approach with caution

The Ghost Tree

xoxo, tree

slingshot me, please















Well. I wish I had an image of me in a tutu in a tree to bring this together. But sadly, I don’t. However…I do own several of those tulle tools of torture. Maybe next week? Maybe someday I’ll be back in shape and can climb a tree carrying a tutu.

Having gotten my climbing fix and still picking spider webs off me, I headed back home, passing an enormous tree that probably made a tremendous crashing noise as it fell, regardless of whether anyone was there to hear it.

I'm shorter than this tree is wide.

And for the record, lying in the middle of a redwood ring and looking up is marvelous. Kinda looks like the trees are wearing tutus.

The End!



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7 Responses to weekend warrior seeks tutus ‘n trees

  1. amahl says:

    I saw all your glorious, amazing, and unforgettably beautiful ballet performances since you were 4 years old, culminating in the very moving and memorable three you mentioned above. SO I want to be there next time you climb up a tree! And you can blind-fold me if you must, but please take me to see the albino redwood, and then the tree hugging the other tree. The latter is a perfect spot for a human mother/daughter hug. love you, mom

    • nadia drake says:

      Hi Mom,
      You’re only allowed to come if you won’t freak out when I start doing things like hanging from branches. Deal? Oh and some of these things are off-trail, so we’ll need to think about poison oak. Otherwise, scratch scratch scratch — and not because you’re molting like a Black Swan. (!) love you too. n

      • amahl says:

        Did you say hanging from branches? But what if ……. what if it breaks with you on it???? Oh dear…. Please tell me you don’t swing from branch to branch too! Okay, okay, okay.

  2. Maha Shakhashiri says:

    Thanks for a fun and well-written journey through the past (tutus) and into the present (trees). I very very much enjoyed your “tutu-wearing” performances; you were superb, magnificent and enchanting. May your reaching up to the tall trees (even without tutus) revive your toe-shoe elegant talents.

  3. Steve Drake says:

    Oddly enough, I used to be an avid tree climber. I’ve gotten old and lazy, and the trees in Tennessee are lousy for climbing – at least that’s my story. Actually, somewhere there’s a picture of me playing the cello up in a tree – there was one particular tree at Oberlin that seemed particularly well suited for that sort of thing.

    • nadia drake says:

      You played your cello in a tree?!! AWESOME. We could put together a whole performance in one of these things!

      PS I easily believe you were an avid tree climber…it’s genetic, obviously.

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