I’m not sure just how many acres we covered that summer, but when I think back on the time my dad and I spent in the woods, I think less about the scratches on my limbs from the locusts, or the weight of the backpack, or the taste of the horrible protein bars we brought with us for energy, or how tired I was from hiking around for eight or ten hours. I think about all of the beauty that surrounded us each day.
I remember the little seedlings that were popping up from the forest floor and how it killed me that we always had to cut the smallest one. It never seemed fair that one of them had to be sacrificed in the name of science while all of the others continued to grow. It reminded me of all the children that never make it to see their first or fifth or tenth birthday, and how it doesn’t feel like part of the natural order of things for a parent to lose a child. I was able to see the beauty in the thought that although the little ones had a short life, their time was necessary and their death was important.