Monday 28 January 2013

Risky Anticipation: A Tree Climber’s Journey By Valarie Budayr

It was a beautifully hot end of summer sort of Saturday. The sort where I go to my favorite indy bookstore looking for something out of the ordinary to read. Little did I know that the book I was about to pick up would change my life forever and lead it down a path I didn’t know existed.

The back of the book cited The Christian Science Monitor:
“This secret, dreamy world has the power to fascinate....Anyone who has ever climbed a tree eager to experience the magic of the world seen from its heights will be grabbed by the story Preston presents.”
What is this secret dreamy world ?

They are the largest organisms the world has ever sustained. The coast redwood trees have trunks up to thirty feet wide and rise more than thirty-five stories into the sky.

As I opened Richard Preston’s book ‘The Wild Trees’, I discovered a world I had only seen from the ground up. The tallest trees that continue to exist in my 7 year old mind. My father took me to the Red Forest when I was 7 years old providing proof to a bet he had made with me at the dinner table a few weeks before that he could drive a car through the trunk of a tree.

My 7 year old mind couldn’t imagine a tree so big that one could drive through the middle of it. Imagine my surprise that July morning as I started my 7th time around the sun to drive thru the middle of a tree. It was completely epic.

The Wild Trees brought me back to that place where majesty, awe, wonder and adventure prevail. The Wild Trees is a story about Steve Sillett, Marie Antoine, and a small group of naturalist who discovered a lost world above California’s forest floor which is in their words “hauntingly beautiful, and largely unexplored.” Up in the tops of those trees are complete eco-systems, forests such as trees growing out of branches, fruit bushes, birds, salamanders, mushrooms, and a vast array of life that only lives up in the canopy.

With each ascend they enter what they call “tree-time”. Time stands still in the redwood forest. Many of these trees are over 1000 years old. It was this thought of tree-time that I realized I need a dose myself.

Over the summer all I had listened to was the various ideas and plans of how I should celebrate my very special birthday. I know that I don’t want to have a lavish event filled with fancy clothes and expensive dinners. I don’t want an event where people make  “old” jokes because I’m not old nor will I ever be “old”. I knew the answer the minute I read it. Yep, for my 50th birthday I need to go to tree-time. I need to see this magical world which only exist there. To a 1000 yr old tree what’s 50 years? I bet I wouldn’t even have my own tree-ring because I just haven’t lived long enough. Imagine. I’m not the sort of person who is an adventure seeker. I’m even afraid of heights. Even with both of these attributes, I simply must see what it looks like from above.

So like with all creative endeavors, it begins with one little thought and from there everything else blossoms. Now I begin the step by step process of getting ready for tree -time. So from where I stand I see where I’m going one little step at a time.

Valarie Budayr is the founder of Audrey Press and author of the book The Fox Diaries: The Year the Foxes Came to our Garden and The Ultimate Guide to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. She is passionate about making kid’s books come alive and you can find her doing that on her popular blog and website, Jump into a Book. When she isn’t being bookie, she is very happily the mother of three uber creative children, married to a wonderfully patient man who has come to love yarn, and caretaker of one adored cat. Other creative interests are music, travel, knitting (a bonafide yarn harlot), and gardening. She loves living a daily creative practice, where even a good cup of coffee is art.


  1. What an exciting adventure you are on. But that does not surprise me. It will be so much fun to follow you on this journey. Good luck and keep us updated on what happens throughout the year.

  2. This is so cool, Valarie! I can't wait to hear about your training and what it's finally like at the top of things! And thanks for the book recommendation!