Old Forests Touching History

I spent a little bit of time looking at cabins for sale in the mountains this week. It’s been months since I last did this, and I certainly wasn’t looking with any particular seriousness this time around. But it’s still entertaining to see what is available and imagining moving out to the middle of the woods. The past couple of weeks have been disappointing and frustrating for me, and the mountains have always brought me a sense of comfort and peace which I do not find elsewhere. Unfortunately, I don’t have the ability to take a few days off and visit my place of retreat right now.

So what is it about the mountains that I can’t find elsewhere? My favorite area has some of the only old-growth forest in Pennsylvania. Despite it’s name, Pennsylvania at one point was almost completely devoid of forests. Most of the woods in the state are relatively young, no more than a century in age. But there are a few groves which were protected by their private landowners over the years and never touched for lumber or cleared for farming or industries. Some of the trees in these stands are older than the United States; they’ve stood since before the American Revolution. And for me, sitting beneath these trees makes all of the problems and social issues of today seem irrelevant and more ridiculous than they actually are.

Time passes differently when you make yourself aware of how insignificant a day or a month or a year can be. When I was a child, I knew adults who lived through the Great Depression. Those individuals, when they were children, would have known adults who lived through the US Civil War. And when those individuals who lived through the Civil War were children, they would have known adults who lived through the American Revolution. Yes, there were generations in between, but ultimately that is only four lifetimes to reach back in time to when this country was not yet the United States of America.

I and many other people in this country managed to touch history when we met and knew these people. And they lived through difficulties far worse than anything we face today. The pettiness of society’s problems is shameful compared to the challenges they faced and the changes they brought about for the betterment of Americans’ lives.

I would rather sit in peace beneath the trees which have seen the strength and perseverance of these past generations than listen to the childish moaning of the current generations.


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