What on earth is a 'tree stand?'

I spent four hours yesterday in a chair 18 feet up a tree.

I was there to observe a deer hunt, part of some research I'm doing for a book. My friend, Dave, and his son Andrew, were kind enough to have me along, and gave me a tree stand of my own. I saw three squirrel, one red fox, a nuthatch, and at least four deer. All of us survived the day, which was good for the deer but unfortunate for the hunters and a plot point of my manuscript. (Maxwell may not be dressing out a deer after all; he needs me to see, hear, smell, and feel under my hands what he would.)

Sitting in a tree stand exposed to 40 degree air with tree bark for a backrest for four hours without moving taught me a little about hunting and somewhat more about myself. It was profoundly cold. I feared falling out of the stand. I feared my stiff feet wouldn't make it safely back down the ladder. I feared doing something to ruin the hunt for the four very focused men up trees in the surrounding woods. And I wouldn't trade it: it was a great experience.

The cold, though, was the worst. Profound cold that all the camo layers and two chemical heat packets stopped protecting my limbs against at about hour three. Still and in silence, with little visual distraction, it required all manner of mental games to cope with the unrelenting consciousness of cold.

Naturally, I thought a good bit about the thread on Around The Dinner Table about patients struggling to retain heat while underweight. I remembered the cold my daughter felt during the worst of her illness. Imagine: cold that comes out from the bones, and from which there is little respite. Humans are built to work at a rather narrow range of temperature, and we work at homeostasis.

I remember - remotely - growing up and walking home from school in the 70s in pre-Polartec Massachusetts winters. Yesterday was a small reminder of what cold really feels like, and how it feels to be cold without relief.

Thank you again, Dave! And Andrew. You guys rock. And I had a blast - really!


  1. You've painted us yet another absurd picture of you! LOL The hunt! I don't think I'd have it in me though climbing a tree and watching all the animals sounds quite nice. I'd shoot with a camera.
    We're in for some chilly weather here for a couple days and just went through 3 days of snow.
    You really research your subject Laura.

  2. I don't get cold anymore, and in a weird way that is something I battle with more than weight, shape or eating. It was always a sign that I was "working hard", it seems strange not to have to wear six layers everywhere! Although it is definitely more practical.

    Here's to never being cold on the inside again. Merry Christmas Laura.

    Lola x

  3. Mary, next time you're coming with me, right?

    Lola, Merry Merry Merry warm Christmas to you and congratulations on what you've accomplished. Practical, yes - heroic, certainly!

  4. Yep Laura, but it will be in search of the wild rabanaspbury or some other untamed creature that will feed man kind and heal it's maladies. We'll find their hidden patch and gobble them up. Maybe do some tree hopping too. (think Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon)
    I mean, why not? I've been doing far too much in the way of cleaning anyway.
    Hope your holidays are wonderful!


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