I recently visited my parents in Iowa. Though they are in their 80's, they are doing well. My dad, in particular, remains very active, and one thing that keeps him that way is 46 acres of hilly land that he and the family are re-foresting. He and his brother named it "The Blooming Tree Farm."
Dad loves trees. Every time we walk the property, regardless of season, he identifies the various trees and points out the value of this tree or that tree. He pokes around in fallen hollow logs, admires the height of the ferns, listens to different birdcalls and notes deer activity. A walk in the woods with him either a field trip (he is a retired teacher, after all!) or an adventure, or both. The farm's narrow trails require constant maintenance and poison ivy alerts!
My parents have also begun teaching their grandchildren and great-grandchildren how to care for a forest with managed planting and harvesting. Every Spring, they order trees from the Iowa Extension Service, and involve everyone who is available to come and plant – usually more than 50 trees. What a great way to encourage kids and demonstrate how we are all responsible for the environment – and that we can all do something!
Not only does Dad know and teach about the trees, but also about local woodlands flowers. He and my mom discovered some Golden Lady’s Slippers, and he fenced them off to keep the deer out and to be able to find them again. This year they were particularly beautiful.
Long after my parents are gone, the trees and the woodland flowers and plants will remain because my parents have fostered stewardship in their children. My dad is fond of saying, "I won't see that tree grow to maturity – but you will!" It reminds me that we all can leave a legacy, and hopefully, like my dad’s, it will be a good one.
I love the flag below, as it really reflects my feelings about my dad. How is your dad your super hero?
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