Nine steps up, at 25 feet, the pegs end and the final ascent begins. From here on out there's only a series of stout horizontal branches, but I have negotiated them several dozen times over the years. Mindful of the frost, I move gingerly from limb to limb until the stand is directly above me, only an arm's reach away. Maybe it's the nagging worry of work I left unfinished back in my art studio, or maybe the anticipation of what might unfold in the magic hours ahead-whatever the reason, I am not altogether focused on the job at hand. Appreciation for this potentially lethal height has left me.