Thinking about this prompt… a forest of trees. I find it spurring on some questions for me. Can you have a forest without trees? How many trees make up a forest? What exactly is a forest … is it just a bunch of trees? And if it’s just a bunch of trees… what number do you need to make a forest? Then I have to consider what I should write about. Should I write about nature schooling? Or even forest school? Perhaps I should do links to various “learn a tree” unit studies? Perhaps I should do a post teaching about Trees of Ontario? I suppose in some ways the sky is the limit, isn’t it? Makes me curious what others members of the crew will do. In the end, I think I’ll just let the muse take me where it will.
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Problems in definition of a forest
One of the problems folks have in conservatory work is that a forest is not a defined number of trees. We know that it’s more than three, but how many more? Is a forest JUST trees? Not really, Instead, it’s a mixed biome with flowers, ferns, mushrooms, critters, bushes, shrubs and trees. In fact, the smallest noted forest is the Kakamega forest is just under 90 square miles whereas the largest forest spans 2.2 million square miles as the Amazon Rainforest. In Canada, the Boreal Forest Region covers 270 million hectares, and spans the length of our country. This doesn’t really answer the question though, of when does a bush become a forest. 90 Square miles is quite the plot of land, so can a forest only reaching 70 square miles be considered a forest? Even 20 square miles seems a forest made…. or even 10!
Locally we have a dump and surrounding it a tract of forest…. which we call a swamp as well, and it doesn’t cover 10 square miles. But when you walk through it, its not small like a woodlot would be, it’s foresty for lack of a better word.
Small groups of trees go by such names as wood, copse, grove, orchard, stand, bush, woods, thicket, woodland, brake, trees, growth, or cover. Smaller woodlots can give us a glimpse into the large clime of a forest, giving a more manageable microcosm to explore.
Can A Bush Help us See a Forest?
As a child, I spent hours in our bush. Listening to birds, finding flowers, observing the seasons through the trees, fishing in our pond, and watching the local wildlife. A love of nature was thoroughly installed into my bones. 🙂
But you know what happened the first time I walked in a true forest? The wind whistling through all those TALL TALL trees…it spooked the very heart of me. So totally unexpected. Though I’d been through our bush on windy days and got a glimpse of wind through trees… the vastness of tall trees swaying and whistling in the wind was unexpected. So as much as a bush or woodlot can give a glimpse of a forest… it doesn’t give the whole picture.
So as much as a woodlot, bush, or grove of trees can give you an idea of a forest, does it really give you a solid knowledge of the vastness and breadth of a forest?
When we go camping we like to go for hikes. This past year I mildly spooked my fellows as I got myself a bit turned around in a forest and it took some thinking (and I’m not good with knowing my east from my south) and a good couple of hours walking, to get myself home again. I just figured “I’m in big ole’ park, I know the lake is THERE so I should start seeing pointers for a walking trail somewhere”. And I did and all was good… but it wasn’t a walk in the park and kinda stupid on my part. Trees were literally everywhere. It would have been so easy to have gotten completely turned around and gotten myself into difficulty.
Since I am raising a child who is asking questions about God when I’m prompted to look deeper into a detail, I need to consider it. I see parallels here between a bush and a forest, between child and teenager. Between learning with a teen, and seeing God more clearly.
We’re told in scriptures that we see now as in a glass dimly. We can read about it in 1 Corinthians 13
8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
Bush or Forest?
You see…. I never knew what a forest truly was until I walked through one. I’d never really thought about how long you could walk through one without finding an end. Forests require trails through them so you can find your way out of them again! Forests require you to have a plan and the smartness of telling people where you are at!
A bush or woodlot… it might take you a bit of time to make your way through it, but you can eventually find your way out (as long as you keep your head about you and have some woodcraft skills). They generally aren’t big enough to cause serious alarm if you get misdirected a bit.
To make our way through a forest you need to know excellent woodcraft and wildlife skills. You need to know how to navigate the hidden and known pathways. Being safe is harder in forest than in a woodlot. Knowing how to get through a bush will HELP you in learning how to get through a forest. It can.
Does Childhood Help Prepare for Teenage Years?
As I further consider the difference between a bush and a forest, and how one is kinda like a dim version of the other. I kinda wonder if God allows us those childhood years to help us prepare for the teenage ones? What do you think?
I think of the relationships we build through childhood and how it helps us to understand our youngsters. This understanding helps navigate the teenage years better don’t you think? These teenage years force us to develop skills in clear communication, in life skill teaching, and in understanding matters of faith.
Sometimes we need to remember we don’t have to have all the answers… AND our teens don’t have to have all the answers or all the questions yet. SOMETIMES our job is merely to ask questions and give them room to think. Or perhaps to spur on their thinking so they can ask questions not just of their parents, but of others that are placed in their lives.
The teenage years are fraught with emotions and hormones, laughter and maturity, new skills and a thousand new questions. It’s like a forest with tall trees and no easy way through them at times. And just like in a forest you don’t know if you’ll meet a bear or a pack of wolves, in the teenage years, you don’t know what ideas will grab a young person’s mind (and possibly their heart). Talk with teens, try to understand their hearts and minds. Try to prepare them for hard questions and harder answers, but really, help them keep their hearts soft and flexible. Give your teens the room they need to think, feel and become the person they’re supposed to be.
I don’t have all the answers
But I am learning. I’m learning to say “I don’t know, let’s figure that out together”. I’m learning to simply ask questions and to leave them open. A parent doesn’t always have to know their teen’s response to a question. Sometimes a question just needs to sit. My longing is that we’ll learn to ask better questions of each other, and better questions of God himself. To see his word as truly the answer to those big questions.
Perhaps, as you navigate your teenagers and their questing hearts, you’ll discover some questions I haven’t thought to ask, and you’ll help me discover answers, and I can help you too? What do you think?
Can this forest of trees of our teenager’s lives… be a dim mirror that helps us to see the forest of God’s truths more clearly? It’s teaching me a lot for sure! I guess my question is… how do we help our teens? How do we walk it in community with them giving them a safe place to ask questions? To provide them with the knowledge it’s okay to not have all the answers as long as you keep looking for them?