I woke up the other day curious about the pine that I planted in my backyard when I was in elementary school. This would have been close to thirty years ago, probably on Earth Day in second or third grade. We were each given a six-inch conifer in a little bucket of dirt to take home and put in the earth.
When I woke up last week, wondering about the pine, I followed my curiosity and looked up my childhood home online. I looked at satellite images of the yard around the home where I grew up, scanning pixelated stills that complimented my memories. I couldn’t tell if the tree I planted was still there. I could see where one that I played in as a child was gone.
Sometimes when I feel lost in the heaviness of day-to-day duties I pause to remember my childhood relationship with wild nature. I hadn’t explored backcountry rivers or desert canyons or slept in mountain forests at that point in my life. My wilderness consisted of 0.4 acres of midwestern lawn pocked with trees behind a house in the Indianapolis suburbs.
And that was plenty. It was enough to give shape to a spirit of curiosity and wonder. It was enough to make space for exploration and formation. It was enough to experience the possibility of coming to know an environment with the intimate press of my palms to its earth as I tucked a fellow creature into the soil.