As a mother I love trying to figure out what my children are thinking.

Sometimes I’m amazed at the simplicity of their words and I realize that sometimes those words are the result of a surprisingly complicated thought process.

This morning my kids and I set out on a little hike (and by hike, I mean postholing) through deep crusty spring snow at 8,600 feet in Wyoming’s beautiful Medicine Bow National Forest.

I was lingering back with my slow (almost) 2 year old, Finn. My 3 year old was scampering up the trail alongside my friend and her daughter.

Suddenly Finn stopped and pointed to a tree where some jerk had carved their initials.

“What happened?” he asked.

“It looks like someone carved into the tree.”


“I don’t know, sometimes people do things that aren’t very nice.”

“Is the tree sad, Mommy?”

“Yes, the tree is sad.”

I like to think that I’m a good steward of the environment…but our gas guzzling SUV sits right next to our gas guzzling truck in the garage. I don’t keep a bucket in my shower and water my plants with greywater and I’d rather clean my bathroom with bleach than vinegar.

Like most Americans, I have room for improvement.

But, if you’re reading this blog I think you’ll probably agree with what I’m about to say.

Maybe we need to choose a new path for environmental education.

-Is the tree sad, mommy-- (1)

Maybe instead of lecturing kids on the importance of turning off the water when they brush their teeth we need to load up our gas guzzlers and take the children in our lives (and they don’t have to be children that we’ve physically given birth to) into the mountains more so they learn to appreciate and love our natural world.

When I look around the Medicine Bow National Forest I consider it my home. My parents took me hiking there as a newborn, baby and toddler. It’s where I learned how to cross-country ski. Then we moved away but I ended up returning as an adult–living close to the forest I love.

If my kids grow up to love the forest then I will feel like I did one thing right as a parent.

We protect what we love.

They’ll protect a forest that they grow up loving.

I’m not quite ready to trade my SUV in for a Prius, but maybe I’ll walk a little bit more when I’m running errands around town. I might put a small bucket in my shower and find a use for the greywater.

I’m not saying that those little things don’t add up.

I’m just saying that perhaps, just perhaps if more kids grew up loving the forest they wouldn’t want to scar a tree by carving their initials into it.




2 comments on ““Is the tree sad, Mommy?”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *