Forestry Lessons

In the north woods of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, there is a cross-country ski trail that our boys dubbed Gut-Wrenching, as in “Let’s go on Gut Wrenching!”

The trail started tame enough and then had a steep downhill with a turn at the base of the hill marked helpfully by a tree with a thick, scarred trunk. No room for error. The only time I went on it I carried my skis down the hill. But then I was fearful. They weren’t. They were reckless. I admired that about them, their recklessness, until it developed different forms and sometimes broke my heart.

But one of age’s peculiar benefits is a markedly reduced fear of trees in one’s path even while one is careening down a hill. It isn’t recklessness as much as it is deservedness. Only some of you will know what I mean here but that is fine. Not everyone needs to share our secrets.

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