The Willow Tree: Part Two

The Willow Tree:Part Two on Vimeo.

Without a doubt there is no shortage of images, video, and stories on social media espousing the extraordinary and the mundane. For me, life is about the simple things that combine and/or synchronize together into the complexity of life.

As a conservationist, I have always been fascinated by our natural environment and silviculture in particular. Our forest resources, whether natural or in a horticultural sense (i.e. the willow tree in my back yard), are renewable. If we treat our environment with respect and care, each new generation of our respective families, not to mention greater society, will benefit greatly.

The large willow tree in my backyard was cut down because the trunk had split, probably due to old age, and the willow tree was threatening to come down on the roof of our house, or perhaps the fence between us and our neighbours. It is conceivable that the majestic tree could have lived for another decade, but the risk of the perpetually strong prairie wind blowing it over was no longer acceptable.

According to one of the team members of the company that we hired, the wood chips will be recycled as ground cover for new trees and shrubs in private and perhaps public areas in the city. The useable firewood will likely be donated to someone in need.

P1130307
Motorized and hydraulic stump grinder in action.

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Learning to Live Modestly by Raising Your Own Children

childrens lives matter

I cannot speak for the two-thirds world and how individual families raise their own children. However, as a Canadian citizen living in a western nation, I can write about my own experiences and convictions as a two-parent family of five.

Shortly before we had our first child, a little girl, my wife and I made the decision to raise our own children. Neither of us felt that is was absolutely necessary for both of us to be working full-time and pawn our children off to a daycare, a nanny, or perhaps their grandmother to raise them. This was a difficult social and financial decision to make in the 1980’s as much as it is today. We had to make choices that, although they may affect our financial future, we wanted to be intimately involved in the everyday affairs of our three girls throughout their formative years.

Frankly, I do not understand why some Canadian families even decide to have children, especially if couples have no real intention of caring for their children, in the true sense of the word, by investing their time and energy into loving, caring, teaching, and guiding their children through the most formative period of their lives – childhood. Quality time is a misnomer – a child needs their parent or parents more than we think or assume.

I understand how expensive it is today to raise children in Canada. But, the cost of living is relative – given the wages, cost of food and shelter, etc., it was equally expensive to raise children in the 1980’s. In my opinion, some parents in North America invariably sacrifice their children for their own careers and pursuing material possessions like a new $750,000 dollar 3500 square foot home with a three car garage filled with a top-of-the-line Chevrolet 4×4, a BMW SUV, a 40 ft. travel trailer, a boat, and an assortment of quads and snowmobiles.

Of course, those same couples rarely use any of their shiny toys, outside of perhaps the automobiles, because they are just “too busy” chasing the American Dream of materialism. “Family time” is the equivalent of perhaps a few short hours in the evening and the weekends, assuming both parents are fortunate enough to have a 9-5 weekday job. Meanwhile, their children are being shaped, molded, and influenced by relative strangers.

Canadian society is just beginning to see the negative social aftermath of the “daycare” generation and latchkey kids.

By now, some of you are feeling indignant and your blood is beginning to boil. Good for you – you are angry, and I am fairly certain you are not even entirely sure why. After all, your career is so important to you, the government has provided you with all kinds of subsidized freebies for your children including subsidized daycare, sport subsidies, pregnancy leave subsidies, child tax credits, etc. You enjoy your lifestyle – you work hard and play hard. And absolutely no one, and I mean nobody, come hell or high water, is going to take that away from you!

Congratulations…you have achieved the American Dream…and your children have essentially been flushed down the toilet.

It doesn’t have to be this way. My wife and I, like you, had choices to make in the big picture of life and living. We have never regretted any of our decisions to pour our love, time, and energy into the lives of our children.

By the way, I never mentioned which one of us was the homemaker or domestic engineer. The truth is, both of us, individually at one time or another, stayed home full-time to care for our children. The deciding factor was always dependant on who had the better job (or a job, for that matter), not just based on monetary gain, or benefits, but a job that allowed for more time with our family.

It was NEVER financially easy, but we made many creative choices to find fun stuff to do as a family that cost little to nothing to do together. Museums, library programs, outdoor recreation, school events, etc., all provided avenues of entertainment, education, and even exercise for our family of five. We were frugal in our choices of housing, food, clothing, and transportation. And yet, our children were always fed well, clothed well, attended good schools, participated in music programs and individual and team sports, and travelled all over Canada and the US.

Today, all three of our girls (now adults) are well-adjusted, well-educated, hard working contributors to Canadian and American society respectively. We are proud of their accomplishments in life. Our eldest daughter is pursuing vital health research in the US as a proficient and published research scientist with a doctorate. Her husband has sacrificed his six figure income in Canada to raise their two beautiful children, and our grandchildren. They actually outright own much of what I described earlier, but they have set aside the importance of all that in order to raise their children in a relatively small Montana community immediately adjacent to the beauty and wonder of nature. A chip off the old block? Maybe, but their children will be blessed because of their choices. And we are blessed as parents and grandparents.

Children are a gift from the Lord;
they are a reward from him.

Psalm 127:3 NLT

The choices we make today become who we are tomorrow.

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