By Sally Enns
Published: Dec. 15, 2012
The forest means my entire youth to me. Without it, I don’t think I would have become the person I am today.
I think I spent virtually my whole childhood running barefoot between the spindly red alders and prickly firs surrounding my two best friends’ house.
They were fortunate enough to own a large wooden cabin nestled at the foot of a bouldery slope deep in the forest of the Squamish Valley.
I think I spent more of my youth there rather than at my own house; I loved the woods and their infinite amount of possibility when perceived through a child’s imagination.
We would play tirelessly, building forts out of old dead branches, climbing low maples, catching minnows in streams that trickled through the mossy undergrowth, and attempting to make jam out of the blackberries we picked before hungry bears got to them.
At night we would lay awake and listen to the forest talking to us; breezes rustling the leafy boughs, the hoots of owls stalking mice, and cries of coyotes in the moonlight.
I was fascinated by the forest and all of its inhabitants, and at a very young age I started reading informational books concerning the plants and animals of Western B.C, all of which have been retained in my memory; I can still name almost any plant or animal I come across.
I also learned a great many wilderness survival skills from my parents when we would frequent the sub-alpine around Squamish, or on our other numerous hiking trips all over B.C and Alberta.
Literature that interested me were books such as Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer and Walden by Henry David Thoreau.
These works have influenced my thinking immensely, and have motivated me to spend some amount of time in my future living alone in a semi-isolated location, preferably in a forest. My experiences have also made me consider a future career in ecology.
All of these experiences in my youth have led to a great respect and understanding of the nature that we coexist with in Canada.
I think in some ways we all take it for granted, and we are very privileged to be exposed to the natural world around us.
I feel that generation by generation we are losing our connection to nature; it becomes unsettling for me to know I am one of the very few students in my high school that can name the trees and plants growing right outside of our windows. I personally think completely severing our link to nature would be one of the worst things that could occur in the history of humanity.
We are well on our way to doing this, and I think we must find a means to escape such a fate. After all, what is the point of humanity without a natural world to live in and preserve?