A FEW WEEKS AGO, I SPENT A RAINY SUNDAY AFTERNOON watching a movie with my five-year-old grandson. It was an interpretation of Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax: the triumph of a good guy over a bad guy who has chopped down all the trees in town and, with an evil smile, is selling fresh air to the hapless residents. There’s also a budding love story on the side – pure Disney, simple fantasy with a happy ending and not much in between.
Later that afternoon, when the sun shone through the rain, we took a walk in our forest. The Lorax was the hot topic as we gazed up at the giant canopy above us. I was told emphatically that trees help us breathe and that if we cut them down, we wouldn’t be able to breathe. I looked around at the many ash trees succumbing to the emerald ash borer, the beech and butternuts that have toppled to disease, but also at the stands of maple, oak, hemlock, spruce and white pine that were thriving.
I tried my best to temper The Lorax’s message: you are allowed to cut down trees, just not all of them; humans need trees; trees die and new ones take their place. It was the condensed version of the life cycle and Ecology 101.
Thompson brought me back down to earth when he slipped his little hand into mine. As we walked along the forest path, he looked up at me and repeated, “Nannie, I think we can breathe because you have all these trees.” In the simplicity of the moment, I smiled to myself and thought, “Yup and you’re my Prince Charming who has stolen my heart with the squeeze of a hand.”