Tree Fear. I was reminded of this dark, chlorophyllic time in Kiddom by a recent post of Kathy, over at the Junk Drawer.
It seems her sunflowers are stalking her, growing unnaturally large entirely too quickly, in their unholy mission to... I don't know... peer in her windows and watch her funk dancing to Nelly.
And suddenly, the image of these sunflowers—waiting... lurking... drooling dry-roasted seeds, even—it took me back to my own leafy, yet funk-free, toddler terror: the slathering, vegetative monster I'd dubbed, "Bamboo."
See, somehow, at about age four, I'd been allowed to watch the horror film Day of the Triffids. (Yes, I know, I know... but it was the 70s. Nobody worried about kid trauma in the 70s. We also ate lead paint chips and rode in the front seat on our mom's lap unseatbelted while juggling knives. You lose little Timmy to a tragic riding-while-knife-juggling accident? Just make sure you have a spare kid, no big deal. Things are different today.)
Anyway, Day of the Triffids is a 60s monster flick where alien spores from a meteor shower grow into man-eating trees, which uproot themselves for some Human Slurpee take-out.
And while modern viewers might see the film as a metaphor for the Red Scare and yadda-yadda-yadda... what my teeny tot brain got out of the film was that our nation's friendly forests actually had an insidious plan. To lure us in with shade, and nuts, and something nifty to climb...
Then drain us like K-Mart ICEE machines.
From this, you can probably tell my contact with Actual Nature was not exactly often. I mean, I was from north-central New Jersey. Aside from the potted plants at the mall, Actual Nature only came in any sort of bulk on the annual camping trip to Cape May...
The place where my Tree Fear branched out.
I look now at the campground's web site and feel an ironic chuckle bubble up:
Our wooded park will provide you with the pleasures of the forest, yet you're only minutes away from the beaches and oceans that have made our area famous.
Yeah, pleasure of the forest, all right. Like the grasping tree branches tap, tap, tapping on the roof of the Dodge Family Wagon, where I lay in the overhead bunk bed. Just an inch of fiberglass between me and being sycamore-slurped.
So I named my foliagey fear "Bamboo." To little kid ears, it had all the sound-effects of terror wrapped into its very word. "Bam!": it sneaks up and gets you. "Boo!": well, y'know... just "boo." To a little kid brain, "Boo" gave it the extra edge.
I did not know from gently swaying Japanese garden plants and Zen.
Anyway, my poor parents learned the hard way of my fear of this carnivorous deciduous. During our first thunderstorm at the campgrounds, as coastal winds began to whip, rattle and twist the objects of my concerns, I made my neurosis known with a certain amount of... um... flair.
"Bamboo's comin'... Bamboo's comin'..." I uttered, whimpering and rocking-- probably not wholly unlike the token creepy child in any horror flick of the era.
It was good I was keeping up with the trends.
The parents, well, they finally got out of me what the issue was though a series of 20-questions, followed by some blame tossing about who left Day of the Triffids on...
And then they stacked "Bamboo" into my Fear Pile along with:
- "Concerns I will slip through the cracks of the boardwalk and drown in the ocean below"
- "Concerns I will go down the drain with the bathwater"
- "Concerns I will be eaten by the skeletons on the Pirates of the Caribbean Ride"
- And mayonnaise.
I'm okay on the first three these days.
But, alas, mayo. (shudder) Give me a man-eating tree any day!
So tell me-- do you recall being afraid of something in particular as a kid? Or do your kids have a fear that simply makes you scratch your head?