What happened to the narrator when she was 7?
The third time the narrator owed her life to her mother occurred when she (the narrator) was seven years old. During this time, the house catches on fire while the baby-sitter has fallen asleep. The narrator notes, in hindsight, that the fire could have been caused by "standing ash," a box, or the buildup of creosote inside the chimney. Her parents arrive to find volunteers trying to douse the fire with pond water. The baby-sitter wakes up but can't access the stairs to get to the seven-year-old.
The only hope is to access the narrator's window. Her mother, an accomplished acrobat, uses a ladder to climb the tree and then uses her acrobatic skill to get close to the window. Her mother then had to leap (hence the title) from a lone branch to get to the window. The narrator is grateful for the series of leaps (actual and metaphoric) that her mother has taken to ensure her safety. The author plays with this idea of leaping. It has literal but also figurative meaning. The mother takes leaps, reaches out, creates a connection or a bridge from one place to another, from herself to her daughter.