Dr. Rich Patterson

Upland Coniferous Forest

Forests are populated by the trees that are common to that particular area.  Some forests are made up of multiple tree types, like Ponderosa Pine, Green Spruce, others in the same area, may be made up of single species such as Jack Pine.  In most cases the type of tree that flourishes, depends upon the topography and soil conditions. The Upland Coniferous Forest is home to a multitude of species of birds and animals that are also common to that area.

When I look at a coniferous forest it immediately brings me to release the concerns of day-to-day life.  It gives me permission to let go of worries and control of things.  I like listening to the wind and how to plays through the forest.  At times the birds are the primary voice, other times it is the trees themselves, and still other times it is the animals that will pass by if you sit very quietly.  They know you are there, but if you sit still, they will look and keep going, they can tell you are no threat to them.  It is their silent look, their studying of you that brings them this confidence.

We can teach our kids and ourselves to be flexible with life.  To let go of the requirements that things be a certain way or have a certain outcome.  If you are sitting quietly in the forest and an animal is within your midst, say a deer.  They will proceed with caution and then they will go about their business of eating quietly.  If you need to move a bit, they will notice, but if it isn’t sudden, they will likely barely even move.  How can we take the time to be more patient?  If you do move suddenly, they will run a bit and then stop to see if there is any further danger and then go on eating.  Flexibility regardless of the outcome is an attitude of adoption that we can choose to make  We can learn this by being open to any outcome or situation and then adjusting like the deer that simply runs a few steps and goes about eating.

Teach your kids to be flexible, to not “expect” outcomes in the sense that they have to be a certain way.  Helping kids to learn to accept the changes in life, even when inconvenient, gives them strength when they need to be able to go on in difficult times.  Teaching them to respond in various situations helps them to understand how to give, and warns them of rigidness and stiffness that often comes with our set expectations.

Learning from the Upland Coniferous Forest teaches us the flexibility that the wilderness has, how it responds to whatever, even fire and moves on.  Here’s what I know:  It is when we dig our expectations in that we’re often disappointed.

Enjoy some time in the forest.