“What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and to one another” – Mahatma Gandi
This past June, we took a family trip up north to Ely, Minnesota one of the main launching off points to explore the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW or BWCA). This expansive wilderness area in northeastern Minnesota covers 1,090,000-acres (4,400 km2) of the pristine Superior National Forest and is filled with lakes, streams, waterfalls, forests and wildlife. Its preservation as a primitive wilderness began over one hundred years ago, and its protection was solidified in the signing of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness Act of 1978. Today, the wilderness area is managed by the US Forest Service.
The BWCA is a magical place where you often feel as if you are stepping back in time to an easier, more peaceful way of life. You are awoken each morning to the melodic cry of the loon or lulled to sleep at night by the chirping of the crickets or croaking of the bull frogs. You can easily spot deer and sometimes fawn and if you are lucky you may even see a distant mouse, wolf or a bear. It is a truly remarkable place that has given us so many gifts and with the passing of the US National Parks 100th birthday I was reminded how blessed we are to have such an amazing network of protected parks (both national and state), forests and wilderness areas around the nation.
Throughout my childhood, I spent a lot of time along the North Shore of Lake Superior doing our annual fall hike to Eagle Mountain in the BWCA. Looking back now, I realize that my love for nature, wilderness and being outside grew during this annual pilgrimage up north. I was only two or three year’s old on my first hike to Eagle Mountain and my father had to carry me on top of his shoulders. As the time went by what once seemed like a huge mountain to climb felt like a quick walk in the park. I’d grown up.
There is something about nature that captures my soul. I crave it and find myself much more fulfilled hiking along a forest or in the mountains with no sign of civilization than any other place.I often wonder what I would do without nature. It is only in nature that I can truly let myself go and feel free. I can give myself time to reflect on life. To reflect on where I’ve been and where I’m headed. To rejuvenate my mind, body and soul.
What if this was taken away and all gone someday? Where would we be?
“There are two ways of spreading light: To be the candle or the mirror that reflects it”. – Edith Wharton
With the growth of deforestation, the depletion of our natural resources, troubling climate change, and the booming global population, our planet is threatened and nature like this is fighting to survive. Oftentimes if feels like we are at war with the Earth, just like we are constantly at war with each other.
What does this mean for future generations to come? A lot will lay upon the hands of our children. In the meantime, I will do my best as a parent and global citizen to teach them to love, honor and protect our planet just like they must do with each other. Love not hate. Compassion not anger. And most of all, to never give up trying to change the things we can change and make the world a better place.