Swiveling to a New Perspective

Donald Conrad

Swiveling to a New Perspective

The cock crows by electronic means.

It is an annoying tone that steadily increases in volume until my paw pads at the buttons on top. My other eye becomes unpasted. A trade ensues; night clothes for day.

Down to the kitchen I boil a kettle and fix a teapot which I put in my backpack with a cup and saucer. I rely on my sturdy backpack. My notebook gives it a certain rigidity. The teapot sits nicely on a box of ginger snaps and keeps enough tea for me.

I become one with backpack. I loop my neck with the string of my floppy straw hat, and head out the rear door onto the deck. The temperature is in the high forties according to the large round thermometer hanging on an oak.

The air smells clean and fresh with a slight hint of ocean thrown in. I savor the morn much like a wine connoisseur; notes detected of cedar mulch, apple mint, fresh mown grass and driveway sealer. The sun won’t break the trees for another hour, but it is sure to be a glorious day.

Ahhh, the power of positive thinking.

Off to the leftmost distant corner of the yard is a pine tree rising some fifty feet or more. Several branches full of live growth form an umbrella that can sway a hula twist in a heavy storm. Each of those branches is thick as a tree. I walk to its base where a ladder rests against the trunk. I climb; bare feet on round rungs. I close my eyes for a moment and imagine I am an aerialist climbing for an audience.

I slow my ascent as the calliope begins to play. The scent—popcorn and caramel apples—brings a smile to my face. The Ringmaster announces, “Lay-dees and Gentlemen, may I direct your attention to the high wire above while I introduce you to the amazing – the one and only – the death defying Bandini. He’ll astonish and fascinate the young and old with his high wire performance. And as if that is not enough, he will finish his act by plunging from the dizzying heights above to this pail of water at my feet.”

I have to open my eyes at the top of the ladder in order to switch over to the second ladder. It has its top and bottom most rungs tied to stout branches close to the tree itself. Halfway up this ladder I can see over the top of my house and across the street; Toby Nelson is off for a morning jog. If he only knew what his neighbor did in the early morning hours.

The side of the shorter third ladder is bolted to the side of the tree. It only has five flat treads. From there the fourth ladder is one of those meant for use as an emergency fire escape. Hooked on a branch high above; it is easy to imagine this chain ladder to be made of paper clips and yourself to be one of Mary Norton’s Borrowers.

The last ladder is just a three tread stepstool strapped in place and I reach my desk finally. It is a modest desk as far as these things go. The legs are attached to various branches here at the top of the pine tree. One leg has been sawn in half to accommodate its branch.

The five wheeled base of my swivel style office chair has been removed and the center post is fitted in a hole bored into a sturdy branch. This is my writing desk far above the world, away from distraction.

I set the teapot at one corner after pouring myself a cup. I put my ginger snaps in the top drawer in case I feel peckish later. The backpack gets stuffed into a bottom drawer. With my notebook open I nest my fingers together—palms out—and flex my hands like a maestro sitting at a Steinway.

This is where I go when I want to write; the place where I imbibe in the elixir of words.

Below, a Dutch three master sporting double jibs tacks wildly from the south. Its port rail is in the white-caps. I begin to type as fast as I can, fearing I might not get it all.

The captain has the wheel in a desperate embrace, trying to hold it steady and hold himself up. Other crew members scramble about, working the rigging. The schooner easily outpaces the galleon that is chasing it. It is lighter and faster, skimming the waves like a flying fish.

From a northeast direction I hear a two-note blast and see a flock of yellow ornithopters coming over the high cliffs and heading to sea. They take turns swooping low over the water, flapping to rise again. The movements of the whole flock are so attuned that they appeared connected like a humongous Chinese Dragon kite. As they get closer I can see all the pilots are women. They are heading certainly toward the racing ships.

On the schooner, men work the rigging on each mast. High sails unfurl where there should be no sails. Not sails after all, they blossom into large balloons that soon bulge into each other for position and the ship rises into the air. Water pours from the scuppers, strakes, and rudder. Far behind, the galleon opens her sails and slows. She seems the perfect warship for the open water, unmatched in girth and guns. This battle has taken to the air though. The galleon is left behind.

Warriors on land race to set up giant crossbows and begin firing javelin sized arrows. The schooner manages to stay out of range and saves its own weapons.

The flock of ornithopters release fuel and fire over the galleon and leave it a floating pyre before returning to shore. The crossbow warriors hold their fire on the ornithopters as the flock steers clear of them. The schooner is away to the northwest and I wonder what else will come of their journey.

I swivel my chair.

On Oak Tree Lane where no oaks grow, a man is operating an excavator. He is preparing a lot to pour a foundation and he hits something. The man’s repeated attempts are to no avail. Whatever the thing is he has found, it is not easily removed. He shuts the excavator down to inspect the find—brush off some dirt. While he is in the hole, his find comes to life by way of lights flickering in orange and green.

As the man steps out of the hole, his find begins to rise from the depths. It is something that is not originally of this world.

  Revealed at last, the find turns out to be another Hard Rock Café. Special today is the Sizzling Chicken Fajitas.

  I hit the ginger snaps early, swiveling to a new perspective.


4 thoughts on “Swiveling to a New Perspective

  1. Marisa Birns

    Love how you found a much better way to say the alarm rang in your first sentence!

    Your words describe, swirl, twist, impart, convey…all wonderful and heady. Ah, and the smells, Proustian nod,eh?


    1. Jared

      I also found something magical about your use of words, it read as though it were some fantasmical adventure story even in things as mundane as a backpack and a tea kettle. Very engrossing, satisfying story.

  2. mazzz_in_Leeds

    Thank you for the tour of your office, it was most enjoyable 🙂

    “I savor the morn much like a wine connoisseur” <– what a great way of putting it.
    I was most certainly transported, lovely piece.

  3. Deb

    I love your imagery and use of language! It’s amazing what one can see and learn about one’s neighbors from a tree house office 🙂


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