Once back in the early fifties when I was growing up in southern Florida, I found myself up a tree.

I was playing in the everglades, which then was my back yard. While most visitors see the glades as a sea of grass, it also includes islands within that grass sea, a few inches higher, but with completely different ecosystems, both flora and fauna.

So! On one of those 'islands' I'd climbed up in to a banyan tree (Banyans grow a vertical trunk, send off horizontal branches and then drop down roots from those branches creating numerous trunks to support their increasing mass and hold tight to the ground during hurricanes.). I' walked out along a branch some 15 or 20 feet above the ground and spent a while just admiring the world around me.

I turned to go back to the main trunk and climb down to find a small, brightly colored snake sunning in the middle of my return route. A snake with beautiful red and yellow bands around it's body. Now there are two banded snakes in the area that look much alike, the banded king snake and the coral snake. The king snake in harmless but the coral snake is deadly poisonous. As any Florida Boy Scout could tell you, it's easy to know which is which if you remember; 'Red and yellow kill a fellow, red and black friend of Jack' , since the red and yellow bands touch each other I knew it was a coral snake.

OK, the branch was wide enough I could stand comfortably, so I waited a while to see if the snake would move back. It didn't, it just lay there enjoying the sun. I probably could have stepped over it and still stayed on the branch and avoided a bite but I searched for other options.

About five feet from my branch was a palmetto, a vertical trunk with palm fronds atop. I figured I could easily jump from my horizontal branch and wrap my legs and arms around the palmetto and then simply slide to the ground.

So I jumped.

I jumped to find there was one thing I didn't know about palmettos, they have splines, much like long thorns, on their trunks pointing upward. Now the leap off the horizontal banyan branch was easy but a leap back of the vertical palmetto trunk was quite impossible.

Subsequently, in spite of the new found splines, the only way to go was down. Hence I slowly slid, working my way to the ground. I did end up abrading my arms and hands a bit but thanks to Mr. Levi Strauss and the heavy denim jeans he made that I was wearing, I didn't pick up many splines in my legs.

Ah, the fond memories of one's youth and the life's lessons learned. Like sometimes the only way to go is down, -and hope for the best!

..and then the there is the time I was chased by a pack of wild pigs, the lead boar having tushes 4 inches long, -but that's another story. :-)