Trees have always been very important to me. In my childhood in Danville, Illinois, we had the second largest American Elm Tree. When it caught the American Elm Tree disease that was sweeping the country, my dad felt we had to move.
When we did move, it was into an apartment he and my mother had built out of a huge mansion that had been abandoned after the depression. There were 100 acres of land and it was on Lake Vermilion. The family that had built and owned the mansion had had hundreds of species of trees imported from other countries. The one that stands out was the Ginko Tree from Japan. At Christmas time we must have had 25 different kinds of evergreen branches to decorate with.
When I got married, Herb and I had trees – big trees at the top of our list for a home we would buy. And we ended up in a lot with huge oaks in a little neighborhood woods. Our first Christmas tree was a three foot live tree and when we moved 47 years later, it was towering over our roof.
At 6 ½ years old, Tami our daughter, knew she wanted to be a forester. My mother had sent her a Smokey the Bear teddy bear when she was very small. It seemed to be a symbol for her life. At the time she entered the University of Washington in Seattle, there were not many women foresters. Today of course, there are many women foresters, but she was among the first of the wave of women that chose that career. As a specialist in evergreens, she was trained to write prescriptions for trees in a forest which included the exact species, amount of rainfall, elevation, shade, soil conditions, planting requirements and so forth. Tami worked in the national government forests near Bend, Oregon, Mt. St. Helen’s and the Columbian Gorge in Oregon.
She did a lot of fire-fighting, too. Back at the beginning of her career, if you were called, you had to go and stay there until you were dismissed – like the army! Tami loved fire-fighting, though. One summer, she was assigned to the project of research for the endangered species of spotted owls in the pristine old growth forests in Oregon. They worked all night to count these owls, feeding them mice and learning firsthand of their habitat. They had to learn how to hoot exactly like spotted owls. She said they got so good, that the predator owls would often come after them!
Her favorite time was the era when the U.S. Government was taking care of whole ecosystems. There were foresters, geologists, biologists, marine biologists all working as teams. As long as she was outside, she was happy taking care of the forests. Then there came the time when our government was no longer taking good care of our forests and she sought and received an early out.
Now I am studying Mystical Christianity and the Kaballah. The Kaballah is called the TREE OF LIFE. I just finished a ten week class studying Mysticism. There were 80 of us in the class! So, here I am in my elder life, studying the Tree of Life!