If something important is stuck in a tree, be it a feline or maybe a drone, Normer Adams is eager to help, and he’ll do it for just the price of a smile.
Retired after 22 years working as a state lobbyist for children and family services agencies, Adams has found a new way to give back and picked up a thrilling hobby in the process. Adams, also the president of Bloom, a nonprofit supporting foster children and families, has taken up climbing trees to help people in need. To date, he has done nine rescues, including cats and remote control aircraft.
In old TV shows, it’s the firefighters that handle getting a scared cat down from a tree, but that’s not real life anymore. Policy prohibits them from doing it, but the local fire departments have Normer’s number. Some cats are easy to rescue. They’ve been up there too long, and they’re eager to get back on level ground. Some are harder, like a recent rescue of a feral cat in Fayetteville that took hours and a trap in the tree to get down.
“That cat, he wanted to be rescued, but he was a feral cat, and he didn’t trust people,” he says. “The higher I went, the higher he went. This cat literally was at the top of the pine tree.”
Eventually, the cat gave in and went in the trap, where he could safely be lowered to the ground.
It’s probably not a hobby Adams ever expected to pick up. He was never much of a tree climber growing up. It wasn’t until a few years ago that he took interest, and that was to deal with a flock of nuisances.
“It’s a long story. How much time have you got?” Adams asks.
It’s actually not as complicated as he’d lead you to believe. He’s got a bamboo forest in his backyard that a huge number of starlings find particularly tempting. When they swarm the trees, they blacken the sky, and when they leave, they leave the ground below the trees white and smelling like a chicken coop.
Adams had a 50-foot tower built to help him get up into the canopy of the 65-foot trees to shoo them off, but he ran into a bit of an issue.
“I had to overcome the fear of heights to even climb tower,” he says.
That fear led him to learn how to climb with safety ropes, and, even then, it wasn’t easy.
“Even with ropes, I would get up there and be paralyzed, just literally paralyzed,” he said. “I’m scared to death, but I just pushed through it.”
His first rescue came when a friend got his RC airplane stuck in a tree.
“I was in a really early stage of learning, and I was scared to death, but I was able to get his airplane.”
It didn’t take long to get hooked. Now he’s a member of the Atlanta Tree Climbing Club and tries to go up at least once a week to stay in practice and get a bird’s eye view of nature. He loves taking his grandkids up as well.
“I really developed a love for it because you get up there and you’re in a different world,” he says of the breathtaking view from the canopy of a tree.
Once he got the hang of it, it was only natural that he branched out to help others.
“When I retired, I said I don’t want a job.”
Instead he gets to do something he loves for the priceless price tag of making someone’s day.
“It gives me a reason to be up in a tree,” he says simply. “And I know people appreciate it.”
If you are in need of a rescue, Adams can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find him by looking for Cat Rescue Guy on Southside Atlanta on Facebook.