The Smoky Hills, most days they look hazy and smoky.
Then you get closer to them and they lose their hazy, smoky look.
I grew up near this fire tower, during the spring and fall it was manned by a person called a fire spotter. They were armed with binoculars and a radio, at the first sign of smoke they would call with the location of the fire. During the summer the tower was unmanned. There were three of us, my brother Carey, our neighbor Danny and me. The boys had no problems scampering up the ladder, I on the other hand struggled. When I was just above the tree tops my knees would begin to knock together and my heart would be in my throat. I would end up backing down without reaching the tower platform. The boys would usually go first, on the few occasions that I went first, I would have to dangle from the edge of the ladder to let them pass me, and then I would go down. It was on those occasions that they would call me a chicken and flap their arms and make chicken sounds. True friends.
One fine summer day, they decided that I was going to conquer my fear and I was going to make it to the top. Once I was on the ladder they said that they were not going to allow me to chicken out and if they had to push me up the ladder they would. There was lots of cheering and shouts of "Don’t look down." "You are doing great" I made it past the treetops and there was no wind. Maybe I could do it? I scampered to the top, opened the trap door and collapsed on the floor, totally exhausted. The boys were right behind me, they hollered over the treetops "She did it!" Then they wanted me to stand up and look over the edge. I did but only while holding on. Then it hit me, how in the world am I ever going to get back down? I announced "I can’t go down, you will have to leave me here." Much discussion followed, they were blaming me for the whoopings that they were going to get. They said I was going to be in "big trouble." Finally after much talking, and their swearing on a stack of Holy Bibles that they would never call me a chicken again, Carey started down, then me, followed by Danny. My knees shook, I cried, they ignored my fearful sobs and counted the downward rungs for me, one at a time. They talked me through it. They avoided a whooping, they never asked me to climb that tower again, but they never called me a chicken anymore either, it was the first and last time I climbed that tower..once was plenty for me:)