Father’s Day gives me a chance to reminisce about when my environmental passions were born. My Papa’s first Father’s Day was in 1985. My grandfather’s first Father’s Day was in 1956.
And these memories start with an EYE ROLL, because NOTHING, I say NOTHING, is more annoying than your father yelling at you not to leave the fridge open so long, or rapping on the door because your shower is wasting too much water. I think the main thing I did as a teenager was roll my eyes…
I have been learning these things since I was little. My dad’s original plan was to become a forest ranger in Germany. Already at a young age his heart was in nature. Then he came upon North America in fifth grade, and ended up reading any book there was to be had about Canada. His new dream: the great Canadian wilderness.
Years went by. He had a house, a wife, and two AMAZING children (ahem). We lived “in the country”, which in Germany basically means you don’t live in the city’s center. We lived in a quiet cul-de-sac in a brick bungalow, and right down the street was nature conservation land, which we played in all the time. We’d play in the dark forest, bang on hollow logs, flip them over and find hundreds of bugs. We would ride our bike until our legs were tired, and do it all again the next day. My bike’s name was Gurke (cucumber).
My grandparents’ house was not far away, and we spent much time there. They were young kids during the Second World War, so they knew a thing or two about preservation and conservation (perhaps where my father’s passions started). They had a garden full of strawberries, peas, fruit bushes, and a large apple tree, as well as a compost. We helped outside while snacking on tomatoes.
Then dad packed us and all of our belongings up and headed to the western side of Canada to a beautiful province called British Columbia. I was eight.
(insert immigration nightmare here)
(insert first encounter-with-a-bear nightmare here)
Years later we were living in dad’s dream house: a log home on top of a mountain, far away from town, and neighbours barely visible. Visitors included moose, bears, raccoons, and other animals. We had a well, but food production was limited because of the poor soil. But by that time, I was an angry teenager who did not care about that stuff anymore.
I reluctantly helped my dad pick black currants. I did not mind my water use. I rarely used the compost. I used the computer and telephone until the wee hours of the morning. I ate fast food during school lunch hours. I still went on some hikes with him, but I was always scared of bears.
Still, in all the shit that can be teenager-dom, I felt peace outside. I’d play with the cats, sit at the cabin, walk a little ways into the woods, or down to the stream that ran through our property. I’d sit on the balcony, observe the quiet, and admired our daffodil garden in the spring. I loved our front gate, where our dog was always sitting, waiting, and watching. I loved going home after a crazed school day.
Dad’s passion of nature and wilderness dreams were passed to us. My sister, the avid hiker and traveler, has reached numerous mountain tops, walked on many soils, and has felt the power of nature within her, which after years pulled her to her own mountain top, which I will wave to now. Me, the avid environmentalist, have found my voice in nature, and my heart wants to protect it like my children.
These are the familial patterns we want to pass on. Being interconnected with nature, and practicing conservation and preservation.
And while I may experience my own eye-rolls, I had to laugh the first time I told my daughter to close the fridge.
Thanks, Dad. Happy Father’s Day. Nun… lass den Kuehlschrank nicht so lange auf!
Thanks for sharing your childhood stories. My father (Norwegian immigrant family) was a real animal lover and even had a pet bear on their farm that he played/wrestled with a lot and was never injured. Very inappropriate by today’s standards. I believe that is what he left me. A love for all creatures.