Filed under: Nature & Wildlife, Outdoor Recreation & Hiking, Special Theme Weeks
A Tribute to My Father
My father was a quiet man. He liked simple things that didn’t cost money—spending time in nature, looking at a sunset, walking in the woods in the evening. He had no schooling beyond high school and worked in a factory until he was 65, but it was from him I learned my connection and appreciation of all things wild.
My father was not a camper. He grew up on a farm and worked hard all of his life. He had no desire to spend a night anywhere but his own bedroom.
From him I learned of the peace and beauty of nature, and the sanctity and necessity of quiet times. He rarely spoke his mind; most often did not share his opinion, but when he did speak up, it was often with humor.
On one occasion I recall, a boy I was dating in high school was attempting to impress my father with his knowledge of farming, in spite of the fact that he had lived in the city his entire life. He approached my dad and asked, “I’ve heard that when cows lay down in the fields, that means it is going to rain.” My father, not impressed, looked over and remarked smartly, “I think it means they’re tired.” End of conversation.
When I was in high school, my parents supplemented the forced air heat in our home with a wood burning stove in the basement. When my father would arrive home from his job about three in the afternoon, many days of the week, he would quickly change his clothes and head out to “Grampa’s Woods,” a small forested parcel of acreage that had been owned by his father along with the farm. He would pack his chainsaw and spend a few hours in the quiet of the forest “making wood.” This was the term he used to describe the act of cutting firewood for use in our basement.
The few times I was allowed to accompany him on his quest, I saw a different man than the father I typically saw. He was completely at peace in the forest, in a way he was not in our home in the city, nor at his job in the factory. He taught me about the trees, the ways of nature, the creatures of the forest. I was impressed by his knowledge of these ways, no doubt learned growing up on the farm and near the woods, much closer than I had, and coveted his peace. I believe I get from him a strong need to be in wild places.
Though I grew up in the city and, after college and marriage, continued to live in the city, I am very aware that on a regular basis I need to escape to a wild place; be it a large forested park in the middle of the city or the seven acres of forest we visit regularly in Wisconsin’s northwoods. I have experienced a much wider variety of wild places than my father. His were primarily located in the forests and fields of Wisconsin. He passed on in 1995, before I did most of my exploring. But I wish I could share the places I’ve been and the things I’ve seen with him. I know he would love them as much as I do.
From my father, I also got my name. He chose the name “Diane” when I was born. I believe he chose appropriately. Diana is the Roman version of the Greek goddess Artemis, goddess of the forest, the moon and the hunt. Though he was probably unaware of all of that, I believe he knew me better than even he was aware. Thank you Dad for all you have given me. I think of you every day and I miss you, especially on Father’s Day. XO