This is a guest post by my mom, Vickie Paulsen, who had a wonderful time visiting us over the summer.
In BC, where trees are a dime a dozen, I wondered why my daughter, Alisa, was so focused on saving the forest around Sunnyside Elementary. If my granddaughters needed to see what a forest looked like, Alisa could photoshop the few trees the developers would have to save, clone them, shove them together and create a forest, if only in pictures.
Knowing that Alisa doesn’t take on causes on a whim (in fact, this is her first one), I traveled from the Mojave desert where I live, to see the condemned forest for myself.
Early Sunday morning before anyone was up, following vague directions to the school, I recognized it easily from Alisa’s pictures. To the west, an area had already been semi-cleared, so I tramped over vines and logs, going downhill parallel to the school, expecting that after passing the fenced play area I could go east to enter the forest.
Birdsong from treetops high above slowed me down. The sides of fallen trees that once faced north were brushed with soft green moss. Grasses, clover, and little viny plants made the ground squishy. I stopped to listen and felt the peace.
Turning east, the going got rough, but the forest itself seemed to welcome me.
As I wandered farther, searching in vain for a small opening, the guardian blackberries grabbed my bare ankles and dug in. They scratched my arms as I tried to hold them out of my way. I swear they grew thicker and higher the farther I went, just as in “The Sleeping Beauty” when the brambles protect the castle. from the suitors.
When I found myself surrounded by blackberries as high as my shoulders, I gave up, blood streaming down my leg and filling my shoe. (It’s true, ask Alisa!) I still had to retrace my steps, knowing that no helicopter or strong eagle could pluck me out of that prison.
The blackberries did their job on me, but it’s OK. I pretend that their most important job is protecting their forest. Our forest. Your forest.
But they need YOU! (How’s that for being anthropomorphic?) Alisa’s data and maps show a scary picture of what South Surrey’s future could turn into. People can change the rules. Developers have to ask permission.
The forest is a precious, vulnerable resource that needs more than blackberries to protect it.