Out our front door, across the circle drive bearing painted lines for a somewhat imperfect badminton court was a field of less than an acre that straddled the ridge which was the high point of our property. In the middle of this field stood a reasonably good-sized oak tree that did not share in the good looks that usually adorn oak trees who are privileged to grow up in the middle of a field. The trunk split into three trunks shortly after leaving the ground, perhaps caused by a long ago lightning strike.

It was decided that we should use some boards from discarded shipping crates to nail ladder rungs directly to the tree which would in turn lead up to a tree house. The tree house never progressed further than a small triangular platform. To be fair, I don’t think that the Deciding Comittee had a tree house, or platform, in their original concept. It had merely been “decided” to nail ladder rungs to a tree. With this singleness of purpose, the eventual addition of the platform ended up being fairly high in the tree. No ‘minutes’ of any meeting had been kept. It’s a bit of a mystery

Being a bit older, my brothers quickly bored of this contraption and it became a place of solitude for me. While sitting high on my perch one day, it occurred to me that I should find a use for this resource. My dad loved to listen to weather reports. By being closer to the sky, shouldn’t I be able to predict the weather? Excitedly I rushed down the new ladder to grab a pencil, notebook and pare of binoculars. I had to be professional about this. After climbing back up and laying things out in a very serious way, it was time to predict. OK, ‘lots of clouds, not much blue’ I wrote in the official notebook. “movement: kinda slow, from the direction of Grandmother’s house” I added. Then it was time to write my prediction under the heading: “TOMORROW’S WEATHER:”

‘I really thought I’d have more information than this’ I thought to myself. I had to make a stab at it even though I realized that there might be a little error margin. I handed the “official” weather report to my dad. He smiled while reading it, thanked me and handed it back.

I knew that my accuracy had to improve, but how? Then it came to me. I should supplement my data by secretly watching another weather report on an earlier TV broadcast. Even though the accuracy of my product improved dramatically, it was soon canceled due to poor ratings and production issues.